When the chips are down

“You got to know when to hold ’em/Know when to fold ’em/Know when to walk away/And know when to run”

Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

When I moved to Lawrence in early 2000, I was working in the newspaper industry as a reporter and page designer. Part of my job was to post things to the newspapers’ websites and over time, I got to thinking “I wonder how all this works.”

Curiosity was piqued.

After a few terrible attempts to get started learning about the web, I enrolled in what I call Borders University. I went to my local Borders bookstore, picked out an HTML book and got busy reading. I would take my lunch breaks and sit in my car reading my little HTML book, then I came home and worked in the evening on exercises and code from its pages. I picked up another book and did the same.

And then I got a call from an old friend who needed a website. “OK,” I said. “I’ll give it a shot.”

He was running for a seat in the Kansas senate and I built a website for him.

He didn’t win.

But the experience was enough to pick up another side gig and then another. I was excited. I really enjoyed learning about the web and how to create stuff for it. Hoping to explore the web in my full-time job, I angled to do more web work than simply posting content online. I had moved around to different news companies in the area and my then gig was pagination editor. It wasn’t too shabby. I enjoyed laying out pages for a daily newspaper and even had people kind-of-sort-of report to me.

They wanted me to keep doing that.

I wasn’t interested.

After fishing around for awhile, sure I’d never find anything with my level of experience (practically zero), I found a place in Kansas City that was willing to take a chance on me.

And that was that.

One of the most important books I read at that time was Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger. It confirmed what I had already suspected: I was in the wrong field.

That was in 2004. I’ve been working professional on the web ever since.

It’s terribly cliché, but when the chips are down, perhaps that’s life telling you it’s time to change course. Maybe it’s time to figure out what you need to do to be happy. Maybe it’s time to figure out who you need to work with – or for – to find more meaning in what you do with your time.

It’s tough to say. Results may vary.

It’s worth taking a look, though.

2 thoughts on “When the chips are down

  1. Carrie

    Thanks for the recommendation of Do What You Are. I’m going
    to take a look at it and find out what I am! =) It takes guts to
    get out of a whole field and into one where you have very little
    experience. I admire the bold move and I’m very glad it’s working
    out for you! Not sure if you remember the librarian from Topeka…
    but I ran across a mention of your blog on http://www.ljworld.com and had
    to see what you were up to.


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