I am at the front of our little band, as we follow a path that makes a few traverses on its way up the mountain. Distracted, I miss the turn at one end of a traverse, and I follow a faint path that eventually fades to nothing. I stop and turn around to face the others.
"Oops," I say. "I must've missed the turn. Let's go back."
They razz me mercilessly.
We find the path again, and resume our climb, and I'm demoted. I'm now at the rear. I have time to reflect on paths — career paths and life paths.
When you find yourself on a path, you know some things right away:
- Other people have been here before
- The path might not lead anywhere — it could be a dead end. All you know for sure is that people have been here before. I wasn't the first to miss the traverse.
- You might be going the right way — or not
- Worn paths don't tell you which way people before you were going. Being on a well-worn path isn't evidence that you're going the right direction. And what's right for others might not be right for you.
- A guide can help
- Find someone who's been there before, or get a map. But even if you have a guide, stop often to ask locals about twists, turns, or troubles ahead. If the guide and the path disagree, believe the path, not the guide.
- Paths sometimes detour around obstacles
- Even after the obstacles disappear, the path's kinks remain. Following a path around an obstacle that no longer exists makes little sense.
- Watch for danger warnings
- Sometimes the
- Some paths branch off from the main path, and sometimes they're marked "Danger." Sometimes the warning signs are missing. Sometimes they're wrong. You're the ultimate judge of safety, and you're responsible for the consequences of your choices.
- There's no safety in numbers
- The entire crowd you're traveling with could be heading into trouble.
- If you see a crowd coming the other way, stop and chat
- Find out what's up ahead, and why they're all going away from where you're headed.
- To find something new, you have to leave the path
- On a path, discovery will be rare unless you do something different — like get off the path.
- Turning back is always an option
- If you decide that the path might not be for you, don't keep going just because you came all this way. Turn off or turn back.
- Watch for interesting but ignored diversions
- Sometimes the intriguing side roads hold the most adventure and the prettiest scenery, and maybe even the most fascinating people.
Think about the path you're on. Is there a turn-off up ahead that looks intriguing? Or is there a turn-off behind you, one that you passed by, and perhaps regret passing? Can you go back? Top Next Issue
Love the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenVglqSWScgnzlKcraner@ChackKgHwbRoqyCGGjDyoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Discussus Interruptus
- You're chairing a meeting, and to your dismay, things get out of hand. People interrupt each other so
often that nobody can complete a thought, and some people dominate the meeting. What can you do?
- Films Not About Project Teams: I
- Here's part one of a list of films and videos about project teams that weren't necessarily meant to
be about project teams. Most are available to borrow from the public library, and all are great fun.
- Management Debt: I
- Management debt, like technical debt, arises when we choose paths — usually the lowest-cost paths
— that lead to recurring costs that are typically higher than alternatives. Why do we take on
management debt? How can we pay it down?
- Confirmation Bias: Workplace Consequences Part I
- We continue our exploration of confirmation bias, paying special attention to the consequences it causes
in the workplace. In this part, we explore its effects on our thinking.
- Just-In-Time Hoop-Jumping
- Securing approvals for projects, proposals, or other efforts is often called "jumping through hoops."
Hoop-jumping can be time-consuming and frustrating. Here are some suggestions for jumping through hoops
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming November 29: Manipulators Beware
- When manipulators try to manipulate others, they're attempting to unscrupulously influence their targets to decide or act in some way the manipulators prefer. But some targets manage to outwit their manipulators. Available here and by RSS on November 29.
- And on December 6: Reframing Revision Resentment: I
- From time to time, we're required to revise something previously produced — some copy, remarks, an announcement, code, the Mona Lisa, whatever… When we do, some of us experience frustration, and view the assignment as an onerous chore. Here are some alternative perspectives that might ease the burden. Available here and by RSS on December 6.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenLmcHoIFTZIURqHXAner@ChacprRMEuLzlgNkjNMGoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, USD 28.99)
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- Ten Project Management Fallacies: The Power of Avoiding Hazards
- Most of what we know about managing projects is useful and effective, but some of what we know "just ain't so." Identifying the fallacies of project management reduces risk and enhances your ability to complete projects successfully. Even more important, avoiding these traps can demonstrate the value and power of the project management profession in general, and your personal capabilities in particular. In this program we describe ten of these beliefs. There are almost certainly many more, but these ten are a good start. We'll explore the situations where these fallacies are most likely to expose projects to risk, and suggest techniques for avoiding them. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.