Thursday, February 14, 2013

The detour may be worth taking...

Detour by artchang
Detour, a photo by artchang on Flickr.
He had it planned - MBA, open his own company, start a family, and make his first of many millions.  Now he finds himself in a J.O.B., working in an industry in which he had no prior experience.  And no millions are in sight.

She had it all laid out, too - college, med school, marriage, kids, and the proverbial happy ending.  But what she wound up with - at least for now - is very different from the plan.  Only some college, no med school, no marriage (although a steady partner), a key role in the family business, and kids.  Several kids.

These two individuals have both taken detours.  In both instances life has delivered something very different from what they had intended.  Circumstances they could not control stepped in as if to say, "Hah!  Let's see what you will do with this!"  And their reactions to the detour are very different.

He is frustrated and angry.  He feels like he failed, that the dream of entrepreneurship has been ripped from his hands.  He blames himself for the fallout of his venture, and he is convinced that this isn't only a detour that he's driving on.  He fully expects to arrive at a different, and far less attractive, destination than he intended.  He has started a family, his children are thriving - but he can't let go of the self-recrimination long enough to see what is there.  He only sees what he is missing.

She, on the other hand, is taking a philosophical view of her detour.  Although she had to face some external changes that had ramifications for her education and career plan, she made conscious choices.  Now in case your habits of thought are taking you into stereotypical women's role land, just cut it out.  She is doing more than filling a hole in the business org chart.  She has big goals for the business in which she has landed.  As a matter of fact, she has the opportunity to do some things that never would have been available to her on the road she planned.

A big and detailed plan does not prevent external factors from creating a delay or a detour.  You can minimize the impact of those factors by thinking about them while they are still potential obstacles, not current ones.  You can create a game plan for getting around them.

Ultimately, though, even a detour has a view out the window.  Even a detour can contain some attractive sights and engaging activities.  You have a choice whether to struggle against it, or to go with it and look for opportunities to benefit from the road you didn't plan to travel.

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