19 Jan

The support and encouragement for launching Deep End Talent Strategies at the start of 2020 was overwhelmingly positive and much appreciated. Several people have asked about the origin of the business name. There’s a full narrative on the main page of the website about the analogies to swim lanes but I wanted to expand more on the benefits of being in the deep end. It can be dark and overwhelming, but you also can’t dive into the shallow end without risking injury or the embarrassing lifeguard whistle. In fact, you have the most space to maneuver and be creative in the deep end of the pool.

I grew up in a small town in southern Indiana where summers were spent at the state park pool. I spent years playing it safe in the main area of the pool doing the doggy paddle and showing off that I can float on my back without sinking. The deep end was intimidating because you could only enter from the diving boards. The water was darker and cooler, so essentially no part of that inspired me to leave my comfort zone. However, the day came when my younger brother was brave enough to jump off the high dive and then dread sank in, because I would need to follow-I was not about to be upstaged.

Perhaps this was my first “fake it ‘til you make it” opportunity because I slowly climbed those narrow steps and stood on the edge of the diving board. I was out of my mind scared and not sure if I was really disguising it from anyone, but I did jump. Well, I didn’t quite jump, and I certainly didn’t dive. It was more of a step off with an extremely clumsy splash lacking any amount of style or grace and a sting that still makes my eyes water. I went deeper than I had ever been before and swam as fast as possible to get back up and get out. Self-hoisted out of the water, I looked back and immediately wondered why I was in such hurry to get out? I could have done a flip or taken my time to swim from the deep end back out to the main swimming area. I wanted another shot but that required me to go through the climb, jump/walk/step, and sting process again to get back in and experiment further.

The deep end offers space to operate and move in ways not otherwise possible. Diving into that space takes coaching and practice to perfect the entrance and exit strategies and maximize the opportunities available. Our mission is to swim alongside organizations and offer the support and guidance needed in the deep end to take the mystery and fear out of the cooler and darker water and allow leaders to swim deeper, faster, further.

Shawna Lake is the Founder of Deep End Talent Strategies, an HR consulting firm working with business and individuals alike.