The Catapult Concept in your career

“‘Catapult’ is one of the most overlooked concepts in career management.”

“Sometimes you just have to step back (smaller role, company, compensation etc.) to amass learnings and growth so that you can move ahead with greater momentum. Look out for these catapult opportunities.”

I read the above quote by Amit Fulay from two years back and I immediately thought of Wile E. Coyote stretching himself in a slingshot to go after the Road Runner.

The visual is ridiculous but the concept is true!

Yes, Wile E. Coyote has a 100% failure rate in catching the Road Runner, but that’s just the cartoon storyline. In reality, stretching yourself and pulling back now to hurtle ahead later is a proven strategy.

I’ve stepped into the slingshot several times in my life. The first time was when I was a Singapore Press Holdings scholar in the late 1990s. I saw many young journalists burning out as they chased after Page One bylines, and I didn’t want the same fate for myself.

Due to my artistic eye, I was given the opportunity to join the Photo Department as a photojournalist. I took up the opportunity but management was not happy since they had paid for my scholarship so I could write, not take photos. Photojs were not accorded the same level of respect as journos in those days.

Anyway, I took the less prestigious editorial role and trust me, you have no idea how people can look down on news photographers. But for five years, I accompanied many journos for their stories and absorbed their different interviewing skills. I also avoided burnout and I went on to bigger and better roles beyond SPH.

I believe this catapult concept works for anyone at any stage of their career. Even if you have been laid off, think about how you can do something “lowly” for now, and prime your catapult to hurl you over the horizon.