07/24/2014 02:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Your Career - Paved Road or Tall Grass?


Imagine a time in your career when the road ahead seems seems perfectly clear. Free of obstacles, your goals are obvious, the plans predictable and the effort to achieve them almost, well effortless. You can operate in autopilot knowing that you can adjust your steering just enough to absorb any minor organizational twists and turns, in order to keep your team stays on track. With the speed limit constant, lots of gas in the tank, the wind on your back, reaching your destination safely, on time, delivering the results expected from you is guaranteed. Does this sound secure and stable or predictable and mind-numbing?

Imagine on the other hand, a path that has been overtaken by tall grass. It's completely uncharted and nobody has come before you to clear the way. You're not sure what the objective is in making your way through this field, as destination is unclear. The energy you are required to expend is significant. Your adrenalin is pumping as you prepare for just about anything since you can't see too far ahead of you. There may be others following you, counting on you to lead the way. Does this sound challenging and exhilarating or frightening and paralyzing?

The reality of finding yourself in either of these polarizing scenarios is unlikely. The truth is that most of us, at any one time in our careers, operate on a continuum of driving carefree on a "paved road" and tenuously stepping through a path of "tall grass." Due to change in organizational priorities, business strategies, organizational structures, role alignments, or resource allocations, we undertake a journey on a path that we didn't anticipate. As human nature would have it, when we should likely be enjoying the scenery that the wide open road afford us, we find ourselves bored. As we wade through the tall grass, we tire and forget what it felt like to be relish in discovering something unexpected.

If you are faced with a a time in your career when the path is unclear, take a breath and look for some wildflowers. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy the path.