Some time last year I came across this quote from Stephen Foster, and instantly I was drawn to it.
You may wonder, ‘How can I leave it all behind if I am just coming back to it? How can I make a new beginning if I simply return to the old?’ The answer lies in the return. You will not come back to the ‘same old thing.’ What you return to has changed because you have changed. Your perceptions will be altered. You will not incorporate into the same body, status, or world you left behind. The river has been flowing while you were gone. Now it does not look like the same river. [The Book of the Vision Quest]
I was not able to shake this quote from my mind, so I went out and purchased the book and quickly read through the book in one sitting. Maybe it was the connection to the river, or the overall message of the quote. What I really connected to was the part about how your perceptions of the events around you create the new reality that you are in. It’s this interpretation that led me to read this quote a few months back when we had the scattering of my Mom’s ashes. I am a firm believer that one of the few, maybe the only thing, you can control in life is how you react to situations.
Part of these reaction is what you are perceiving. This perception, right or wrong, is your reality. This holds true with your reactions with other people, with how you proceed with projects at work, or even with sets of data that you are trying to analyze and make sense of. All of your past experiences will affect how you interpret the data, and what changes to your website or a/b tests or advertising choices that you have to make. This complete perspective and understanding of this perspective should give you the confidence to try new things, to ask new questions about the data, or to even question the data itself. Let’s face it, no matter how much time and energy is put into an implementation, mistakes happen.
How you handle this reality defines not only your career, but you as a person as well. Will you be limited in your efforts by your experience, by the tools you have to use, by your technical knowledge? Or will you find ways to gain more experience, ways to get the most out of whatever tools you have or use other tools, ways to expand your technical knowledge?
Me? I will be volunteering for the Analysis Exchange and the Web Analytics Association. I will read all the analytics blogs and books I can find and work to practice the techniques and strategies I find. I will work to improve my technical and analytic skills.
This is my reality.
What will your reality be?