Like any journey, achieving professional success can take a round-about route. In my mentoring work, it is not uncommon to hear of frustration when dealing with this reality. We all tend to imagine (especially when we are young), that the point from which we start out, to the point of reaching our professional goal(s), is a straight line, upward, trajectory. For some people, this can be the case, but this is rare. In most cases, circumstances occur which have the potential to sidetrack or to even rail road us elsewhere. This is when we need to re-evaluate and refocus. For those blessed with a single-minded focus it can be easier to get back on track. But is an absolutely single-minded approach always the best way to get to where we want to be?
As you know, I am very fond of role models, and there are many examples of success stories that occurred through unorthodox means, life interventions, set-backs and other unexpected incidents. At first glance, these may not have been evident as a contributing factor to an individual’s ultimate success story. While it is essential to keep our goals in sight, sometimes we need to make an unplanned detour on the journey towards them. Such detours can often represent experiences that will, in fact, contribute significantly to our skill set in unforeseen ways. Even the detours that seem to be taking us off the beaten track can result in a more rounded, better experienced, wider skill set professional.
When life throws up a roadblock, it is a great advantage to be able to view it as a potential opportunity and certainly, as a learning experience. It also helps to retain motivation and a positive attitude while taking a necessarily more circuitous route than we would like. When it comes to the development of life experience, I do believe that nothing is ever wasted. It can be difficult to keep this in mind, particularly if some of the obstacles to be overcome are harsher experiences. We may even find ourselves re-directed on a path to a different kind of career and to success we did not expect to find. Some of the greatest leaders and innovators in history found this to be the case.
The saying that ‘success is a journey, not a destination’ resonates strongly with me. Some of the set- backs and side trips that I have taken have contributed significantly to the betterment of myself personally and professionally.
Do you have an experience what seemed like an obstacle, but turned into an opportunity? I’d love you to share it with me.
“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” — Randy Pausch