Three Rides and a Fall – a Typical Job Experience

Let me tell you what it is I’m up to in this post. I’m going to explain what would a typical work or job experience look like, and how that usually spans four years – more or less – of joyful times.

But first. . .

Who loves models? I do, but don’t get me wrong. . . this is not about fashion models.

With models, you can picture a scenario of life that’s usually hard to describe or imagine. A model may be simply a representation of, say, a job experience so you can reference to, compare to, and validate against. It helps you find out whether a scenario is right or wrong.

I model that as “three rides and a fall” which basically is about taking three different rides (the first three stages you would go through), and close with a falling ride as a final stage. The three rides are:

1) a learning ride,

2) an excelling ride, and

3) a mentoring ride.

The fall is just a fall, but I would picture it as a ride that’s downwards.

What I describe here – in my opinion – is what you should seek in a job experience that you are currently enjoying, or looking forward to as a new responsibility.  It would also be what you would expect to experience in a job to make the most out of it and make it joyful. Here you go, the model and its rides in a bit of detail.

1. Learning

This is what’s usually expected of a typical human when he or she gets assigned a new responsibility. You need to learn, and you need to learn almost everything: the environment, the work, the strategies, the tactics, the people, and the business overall.  Nothing outstanding is expected of you except delivering what you’re asked for. Usually, you don’t get stretched or asked for high performance. It usually is about delivering the bare minimum, and most people perform the same in this ride of learning.

It’s a loss to skip this ride, even if you have super knowledge and expertise.  Not only because it is joyful, but also because you might miss learning from others, the least!  I personally enjoy this ride the most, and believe everyone should experience it to its extremes whenever possible.

2. Excelling

What do you expect of someone who spends quality time learning? Of course, quality delivery! That’s what I call excelling at your job and delivering your best. This is a ride when you apply the best you have learned, and seek perfection and quality. You can call it turnover time, since you get the chance to give back to your organization for giving you the opportunity to learn.

This is a time of a partial return on investment they made on you. Why do I consider partial only? Because, you still can do more, and that’s going to be on your next ride.

3. Mentoring

Yes, mentoring!  Being a role model puts a responsibility on you to teach, to seek out others giving them a hand on their own rides.  This is a stage when you become on top of what you’re doing – remember that this comes after excelling in your job – and that you are ready to mentor others.

This is a stage that’s hugely missed by most people tempting to seek out the next big challenge.  You cannot imagine how enjoyable this stage is to you, to your colleagues, and to your organization. It’s when you hit an outstanding return on investment in terms of knowledge capital. I would allow myself to go extreme and call it selfishness not to mentor when you become a role model.

4. The Fall – New Beginnings

It’s no harm at all to fall after three successful rides, right? You fall because you become saturated of the things you have been doing so far. You either get bored of what you’re doing, or become the old blood that needs to be donated. The latter is a rare case, hopefully!

This is a time when you need to look for a change and seek your next challenge either internally or preferably externally beyond the boundaries of your current organization.

This is Just a Model – Life isn’t perfect!

It’s important to understand that models are abstract and life cannot simply match them.  They represent things in its perfect form, and usually reality drifts away from them.  This doesn’t mean models are not correct, it just means that you’ll experience variations of a model and you can keep it as a reference or a guide.

Another factor to consider is the blending of these rides with each other. You could be learning and excelling at the same time. You could also be excelling and mentoring at the same time, and that’s logical as well. You could be mentoring, learning, and bored (falling) all together!

In my opinion, what counts is what gets felt and experienced the most – the peaks – and the order of those peaks. While you’re learning and excelling at the same time, one of them would be dominating or peaking, and that signifies which ride you’re on.

It’s also important knowing that four years is a typical timespan for this “model of job experience”. It can be experienced in less or more number of years. Try your best to fit them on the number of years you see suitable for your current job.

My Own Experience of the “Three rides and a fall”

I must admit a number of facts before sharing my experience here:

  1. I didn’t recognize the “three rides and a fall” model until recently.
  2. I didn’t experience the model fully throughout my career. In fact, it was applicable only to two jobs I have occupied out of six jobs I was blessed with.
  3. The two jobs in which I have identified this pattern were the most enjoyable ones amongst them all!

The first job I have experienced the “three rides and a fall” was my first being a systems engineer. I went through learning, excelling, and mentoring in that job.  I must say that I didn’t feel the fall ride, since I hopped on my next challenge immediately after that.

The second experience with the “three rides and a fall” was my recent 4-year job as a technology specialist. I went through learning, excelling, mentoring, and falling.  It was of course a great blend throughout those four years, and was very joyful.

How about your job experience? Do you think the three rides and a fall model applies to you?


Abdurrahman AlQahtani is an IT Consultant living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is passionate for learning and mentoring and loves technology with a business and social connection. He also has a personal blog at Learning Passionate.


  1. Abdulaziz Almuammar on the 25th January

    Nice article as you always are :). Keep inspiring me my brother

  2. Paul Maddock on the 3rd February

    I love this post, I’m glad you put into writing what I have only vaguely thought up until now. This post has been running through my head since I read it a couple of days ago.

    What I think is really interesting is that you can have multiple rides going at one time. I’ve only been in full time work for 8 years, but I feel I have been through this with so many elements of my working life. For example, I started off doing data entry, so I had my rides and a fall there. But at the same time I started learning Excel, which I would say I am only just cresting the learn/excel ride, but it has taken me this long to get to there whereas I have surpassed my first job a long time ago.

    Additionally, I work on a daily basis with graduates, which gives a really clear perspective on how hard it is to learn all the skills required in day to day busy job when you’re starting work.

    I love this blog, and as ever please keep inspiring.

    • Abdurrahman Alqahtani on the 3rd February

      It is indeed thoughts that usually come to people with some years of experience, short or long. I’m glad you felt it throughout your 8 years of full time work, and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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