I was listening to a Ted talk this morning and this soundbite caught my attention: The path to success is not perfect.
I immediately thought about those Family Circus comics where a kid was supposed to go “straight home” and went all over the neighborhood, a few times, in anything but a straight line, before he got home.
We have a plan of how our careers will go (mine was a pretty straight path to some executive corner office…. undergrad, MBA, and then a quick path up management to the executive level). Pretty simply. Pretty planned.
Alas, when I’m pressed to describe my career it was not the straight line… it was not even a soft curve off of the straight line. It was more like the kid in Family Circus, with circles, backtracks, tangents, and going places that had nothing to do with the end goal!
Back to the phrase… in my mind I thought: “The path to success is not a straight line.” Notice I changed it from “not perfect” to “not a straight line.”
Is there a difference?
Generally, your path to success will not be in a straight line. You’ll have setbacks and things that feel like circles. These can be SO frustrating, especially when you are in the moment! But, like mutual funds, which generally move up and to the right, your career generally works out well. Looking back you can kind of laugh at those setbacks and loops. Maybe.
Not a straight line.
But, for you, can it be perfect?
I look at all of the things I’ve done… it feels very eclectic. Indeed, it has been eclectic. But each of those weird things built on one another, and got me to where I’m at today. I have not yet “arrived,” and I’m not yet “done.” But each of those things have helped mold my thinking, my strategy, my strengths, and my wisdom into what they are. If you read my blog last year, you know it was a combination of weird skills that got me my last dream job. They were looking for a mismatch of weird specialties, and I had it.
For me, my path has been perfect.
Not easy, not always fun, not always financially rewarding, but perfect.
I’m writing my own path, as are you. What seems like a mistake might lead to a super opportunity in the future.
So, chin up, adjust your perspective, and keep moving forward. You never know what greatness awaits you.