Most of the time, we drive towards our goals, however quickly or slowly as traffic permits, in a sure and certain manner. But every now and again, we get off track and end up having to go to the edge to get the lay of the land.
Recently, I had just that experience. I was in a long-term project (5 years is fairly long, I'd say, wouldn't you?) that had stalled on the prime's side. I was a sub to a sub, and being on the training end of the tail, was being wagged and tossed about as the political will of the major players saw fit.
(I know I'm mixing my metaphors. Let's just say that the road was getting a little bumpy due to poor financial planning on the prime's side and the asphalt ended on the sub's side, so I had to push on a dirt track that seemed to wander aimlessly wherever the client willed it. And at this stage of the project, the new staff who had been brought on only a few months earlier, thought that they weren't doing their job unless they redesigned the whole training approach.)
At about the way-point of the third re-design, I was in desperate need of a break. Indeed, I needed water, refreshment, and a bit of a rest if I were going to see it through to the end. Or not jump off the cliff. (The thought crossed my mind. Seriously.)
Fortunately, I had just such an opportunity: the Write the Docs conference. I had agreed to speak there, and after I had presented (first!) and the stress of preparing for it over, I was able to relax and listen to the other presenters. There were some fabulous talks, all focused on documentation for software, and the ripples of that silky stream of thought washed over me and let me see the way to the end. I could once again envision the big picture and find the track that would take me out of the desert and back towards civilized society.
We received the client's approval two weeks later, and training began last week.