First a quote: “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” —J.P. Morgan
This past weekend, my wife and I were able to attend a “farewell/best wishes” party for our son’s girlfriend, Kate. She was leaving a job she very much enjoyed in search of the next chapter of her young career. Judging by the number of customers who came to wish her well, it was obvious she made a lot of friends and impacted many people in positive ways. She is very good at what she does.
I’m quite certain it was a bittersweet gathering for her. Happy and exciting on one hand, and perhaps sad and bit a scary on the other. She must have been wondering what stories and experiences lie ahead for her around the next corner? Only time will tell.
Most of us can relate to the full range of emotions Kate might have been experiencing, and will continue to experience, in the days ahead. Significant change almost always carries with it an entire range of emotions, both expected and unexpected, some negative and many positive.
I applaud Kate’s decision to take this first bold step; by deciding to seek a role in her field of advanced study; which is communications.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
Now a hard “left-hand turn” in topics. Reflecting on Kate’s decision to move forward with her career and the opportunities ahead, I reflected on the various experiential team-building events I have run over the years. One of those events is called orienteering.
Orienteering is a sport or learning activity in which teams use a detailed map and compass to find various “targets” placed across the landscape, often a mountainside or wilderness area. These targets usually have varying point values based upon their location and degree of difficulty in finding or obtaining. Participating teams need to design a strategy for finding the most targets, collecting the most points, and then execute against that strategy in the shortest amount of time.
Like most experiential learning events, the debrief of the activity can focus on a myriad of learning possibilities. For today’s missive, my focus is on five possible learning points typical in most orienteering events. These points could be considered, and applied, over an entire range of possible scenarios including when you and/or your team/organization might be:
- making a major career decision (like the one Kate is making).
- taking on a significant project or change initiative.
- implementing a strategy in some aspect of your department, company, work, or life.
Those five learning points include:
- Identifying the “You are here” spot of your career, project, or strategy – This step should include an assessment of your current situation. What are your strengths and weaknesses related to the anticipated journey ahead? If you don’t know “where you are” on the map or field of play, it can be more difficult to map out your next move, let alone identify your ultimate destination.
- Assess the terrain around you, including your most likely path forward – It is important to assess the terrain ahead, to identify the resources required, the potential barriers, and roadblocks you’re likely to encounter. It is always wise to expect the unexpected and to identify alternative worst and best-case scenarios. If possible, talk to other explorers who have been over the same terrain before you. Seek to learn from the experience of others.
“If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who been there before.” – J. Loren Norris
- Expect and anticipate detours – The path forward will most certainly include detours and unexpected delays. Anticipating detours will help you more easily overcome setbacks and minimize disappointments. Again, discipline yourself to run alternate scenarios at various checkpoints along the path. Anticipating unexpected detours will help you be better prepared and be more aware of a wider variety of options for your consideration.
- Celebrate forward progress – Schedule time for frequent reflections and “look back opportunities” along the way. Identify and appreciate the obstacles you have overcome, and the lessons learned. The process of taking inventory along the way will give you motivation to climb the hills remaining on the path ahead. Intentionally celebrate progress with purpose.
- Continue to refine your vision of the anticipated destination – It is impossible to see what the future will look like from our current “You are Here” vantage point with 100% accuracy. However, our experience along life’s path also gives us more data and more insights to consider. Listening and learning along the way helps to provide us with more clarity about what we would like to see in the future. If we’re paying attention, we gain wisdom from our past that will aid us in the future.
Kate’s next chapter doesn’t have to be the “perfect job for the rest of her life” because the next job, whatever it is, will provide more clarity and insights as to what the ultimate “perfect job” might look like in the future.
Where are you on your career map? Where do you want to be someday?
How will you live, love, or lead, differently, or better, this week?
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “The start is what stops most people.” – Don Shula
- “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” – Tony Robbins
- “If you keep going where you’re going, you’ll end up where you’re headed.” – Chinese Proverb.
- “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra
- “Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” – Erol Ozan
- “It is not the destination where you end up but the mishaps and memories you create along the way!” – Penelope Riley
- “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs
- “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- “Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” – Babs Hoffman
- “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over, and over, and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan