Imagine you’re on a flight that takes about four hours from departure to arrival. When you reach the fourth hour, you realize you are nowhere near your destination.
What’s worse, you’ll have a to make an unscheduled stop that’s about 1-hour’s drive-time from your original destination. How would you feel? Frustrated? Angry? Relieved? Your emotional state probably depends on how much you’ve invested in your goals.
The more we have invested in our goals, the higher the frustration when miss the mark. So it’s surprising that so many of us are apparently willing turn over the controls to someone and still expect to achieve them. Rarely do our personal goals match those we entrust them to.
In this case, everyone started out with somewhat similar goals – to arrive in Orange County. Except, the flight’s captain informed the passengers because of a computer malfunction, he declared an emergency. We were now scheduled to land in Los Angeles.
Cue the ominous music
Just like air travel, life’s circumstances some time lands us at an unplanned destination.
- Maybe it was your goal to work at one company until retirement only to get laid off after you returned from lunch.
- Your plant closes down.
- A new business platform disrupts your whole industry.
Just as those passengers trusted an airline to get them to their destination; so many of us, put our trust in an employer to do the same. Except, anything can happen when your goals cease to match.
Yet, this is how many of us prepare to sustain our subsistence. We hand over the reins and expect others to have the tools to steer us through 40 or 50-year career filled with diversions and upheavals.
If this sounds remotely familiar, here are a few things you can do today to “take control of what you can control” namely, your life.
- Charting: Plot backwards. Chart your professional life course from destination to the origin. You need to know where you want to be, to determine how to get there. Toss the pragmatic thinking and create your best life ever.
- Route Planning: Prepare to reach your destination (of goals.) First tackle the goals you can achieve on your own. Once you’ve finished; look around. While you were working diligently you probably attracted some attention. Weed out the tempters and obtain the help of shipmates (mentors) to finish the rest.
- Destination: Once you’ve reached your destination which is a professional life that can weather any storm; the final step is to reinforce it.
- Sustainability: Build a professional network that will not only sustain you during the lean times, but if you build it properly, the members will work to sustain each other.
Compare this network to the flight referred to in the beginning.
The captain and first officer, managed what was within their control. This included mapping a new route, destination and alerting Air Traffic Control to a possible emergency. The captain notified the purser (lead flight attendant); the purser notified the cabin crew and all prepared the passengers for a possible unplanned evacuation.
If there were an expected crash landing, the flight attendants would have enlisted the help of able-bodied passengers to assist with the evacuation. It would have been an “all hands on deck” type of scenario. This is how you build a sustainable network. When you are at the helm, your mentors and helpers assist you as well as lead others in the network to safe passage. When it’s your turn to be called upon to be a mentor or helper you do the same in your network.
The flight landed at LAX without incident and as the passengers deplaned, many said they were relieved and expressed gratitude. A few passengers including an elderly couple were rude. The wife, acting as spokesman for the couple, said how disgraceful it was that the airline would take them an hour out of their way. Imagine how disgraceful it would have been if she was on fire due to a crash.
But I digress.
The emergency turned out to be nothing more than a temporary computer glitch. The airline arranged for bus transportation to Orange County. Eventually, everyone achieved their goal of arriving at their destination.
The outcome could have been different, however, if everyone had conflicting goals.
With this is mind, in charting a professional course, it’s best to first determine your own destination; then meet up and join forces with as many people heading in the same direction.