Leaving The Comfort Zone

I’m leaving my convenient development infrastructure team leading role in favor of being a commander in the technological officers course.

That’s not a secret that I wear uniforms. When I was 19, back in March 2011, I got recruited to the IDF’s Software Development basic course. Mostly known for its fine graduates, the IDF’s Computing Academy provides a 6 months course to study software development “from zero to hero”. I got to know awesome and special people that became my closer friends to this day. When the opportunity came up, I tried to become a commander in the software development course, but instead I got an assignment for a software development team in C4I.

Me and Omri Lachman: IDF’s most talented software engineers

My first position as a software engineer was in the development infrastructure team, because of my previous development knowledge. I helped our HR application with everything relates to development; From external services and inter/intra application messaging, to solving weird bugs, debugging and deployment issues. Late 2013, I started a 8 months long journey to become an officer in the IDF. When I got back by May 2014, I became the development infrastructure (Magma) Team Leader. My team was in charge of the development environment of every software engineer in our unit. Although our main focus was on the developers in our unit, we even took an active part in “open sourcing” more fields such as learning environments and materials, and tried to help other units and army forces as well.

My commander in the technological officers course have always said “The job is what you make out of it”, and I think I did a great job. There was only one problem.

I never went out of my comfort zone.

Two months ago, Rotem, my commander, asked me if I would like to take a part in preparing future officer course cadets and be a commander in the preparation for 3 weeks. Accepting this offer would make me leave my convenient office near Tel-Aviv, with all the people I know for years, and make me serve in the Negev (Israel’s south) and come back home once in every week for the weekend only.

“I’ll think about it”
- Scared Me

See, I’m not reckless. I don’t really know why I needed that time. I need to think about this kind of things very carefully, well, I actually rejected this opportunity for many times. But when Rotem said “I need an answer in one hour”, I immediately said yes. The next week I started my 3 weeks as a staff in the officer course preparation.

I realized 3 things.

I learned that I’m awesome

These 3 weeks were amazing and totally changed my perspective about things I do and how I do them. Since I was a teenager, I hang out with the same people. My best friends from high school still are my best friends. But something else happened in this 3 weeks: I lived together, laughed together and got angry together with 5 other people I didn’t know before. I didn’t expect to be accepted by random people that fast: I became happier, I became more confident about my personality.

I was emotional

When I’m in my comfort zone, I make no emotional decisions at all. Logical explanations is very common among software engineers: The one who has the best argument wins. And as a not-so-emotional person, working in software engineering can make me very disconnected from emotions.

But that can’t be the case when you are all alone with new people around you, and have to do things you never was asked to do. You will break, you will get to extreme sadness, and that’s the way you can also be fully happy.

“Because we don’t want that first bit of sad, …, you never feel completely sad or completely happy, you just feel kinda satisfied with your product, then you die” — Louis CK

A fresh start is… refreshing

Sometimes you act just because people know you for a certain way. You may be embarrassed to change the way you do things because of your old habits. For example: You may care about the arrival time of your soldiers, but at first you haven’t shown it. That is a problem.

Being around only new people is also refreshing. The more people get to know you, the more opportunities you get. Job/service opportunities, relationship opportunities, they are all the same: opportunities. If you limit yourself to a small group of people, you will never have the opportunity to get better.

So I wanted to do it again

When I was about to finish the 3 weeks I was assigned in the south, I called my unit’s commander, which is a Colonel. I asked to join the staff of the final stage of the officers course. While I know many people who were forced to do so, I volunteered and got accepted.

The next week I’m starting our preparation for the next officers course that will arrive on February. There is a big chance that this course will be the last thing I’ll do in my army service, so I’m stoked.

I sometimes think what would I do if recruiting to the IDF wasn’t mandatory. But when I look back, I understand that I changed a lot and I have grown up a lot thanks to my army service. I am grateful, and I’d do it all over again.

I’d like to say thanks to the people that made my army service so awesome.

First of all, to my commanders over the years, that made development my biggest hobby and providing inspiration for years. For being my commander without getting crazy and help me get decisions for the rest of my service, without leaving me in my comfort zone.

Thanks to the soldiers I had over the years. Thanks for suffering me as a weird team leader. I learned from you a lot and I’ll keep on learning from you guys. It’s not over!

All my coworkers that got any piece of my insanity, or what I’d like to call, motivation and love. I’m always here for you guys and you are always in my heart!

These 6 years were great.