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? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.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:
- Don't Worry, Anticipate!
- Dramatic changes in policy or procedure are often challenging, especially when they have some boneheaded
components. But by accepting them, by anticipating what you can, and by applying Pareto's principle,
you can usually find a safe path that suits you.
- Films Not About Project Teams: II
- Here's Part II 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.
- Healthy Practices
- Some organizational cultures are healthy; some aren't. How can you tell whether your organizational
culture is healthy? Here are some indicators.
- Clueless on the Concept
- When a team member seems not to understand something basic and important, setting him or her straight
risks embarrassment and humiliation. It's even worse when the person attempting the "straightening"
is wrong, too. How can we deal with people we believe are clueless on the concept?
- The Focusing Illusion in Organizations
- The judgments we make at work, like the judgments we make elsewhere in life, are subject to human fallibility
in the form of cognitive biases. One of these is the Focusing Illusion. Here are some examples to watch for.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 18: The Trap of Beautiful Language
- As we assess the validity of others' statements, we risk making a characteristically human error — we confuse the beauty of their language with the reliability of its meaning. We're easily thrown off by alliteration, anaphora, epistrophe, and chiasmus. Available here and by RSS on December 18.
- And on December 25: Disjoint Awareness
- In collaborations, awareness of how our own work might interfere with the work of others is essential. Unless our awareness of others' work — and their awareness of ours — matches reality, the collaboration's objective is at risk. Available here and by RSS on December 25.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, 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, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
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
- 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.