Thursday, September 18, 2008
Janet M. Ruck
Some days, when I’m kayaking down an unfamiliar body of water, map in hand, I find that I’d rather enter a tributary that looks interesting, for whatever reason – foliage, birds, whatever. It’s often these forays into the unknown, into the unfamiliar that are the most satisfying and the most memorable. Despite my plan and my map, I am ready to take a chance on the unknown. I’ve come to call these mindful meanderings on my weekly kayaking journeys. Off the beaten track, they beckon me to follow them just this one time, and I’m never disappointed.
Perhaps this can be a technique for career exploration. With all the planning that we do, we may lose sight of opportunities ripe for the picking because we only look forward, not left or right. But it’s in the willingness to take a chance and to take action that we often find the most joy and satisfaction.
A theory of career development is that sometimes, as much as we’ve planned a career, it’s taking a step into the unknown that provides us with the most return for our effort. Called “happenstance” it takes the stance that we create our opportunities by taking action on our curiosity. By acting on chance events, we give ourselves a chance to transform unplanned events into career opportunity. Rather than waiting passively for something to happen, we take advantage of circumstances that create a synergy in which we make our own luck.
Not having all the information can cause us to fear going in a direction, or making a choice, or taking a stand. But sometimes it’s best to just take action, some kind of action, to loosen inertia’s grip on us.
And, when faced with so many choices, options and opportunities, fear can cause us to remain motionless. Action begets action. Taking the first step makes it possible to take all subsequent steps. Making a choice and a commitment to follow through can dislodge the fear and the muck that keeps us bound to our indecision.
To paraphrase the great Yogi Berra: “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Taking a chance and a stance in a direction, you’ve energized yourself and your journey for what lies around the bend. Especially if it’s another fork in the road.