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
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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to the path lets you focus all your energy on the path you've chosen.
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- Many of us own books on time management. Here are five tips on time management for those of us who don't
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- Paradoxical Policies: I
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On 14 December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. But to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. We'll use the history of this event to explore lessons in leadership and its application to organizational efforts. A fascinating and refreshing look at leadership from the vantage point of history. Read more about this program.
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44017: November 7,
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- Baldwin-Wallace University, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio 44017: November 7, Kerzner Lecture Series/International Project Management Day, sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
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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.