They say there are only two certainties in life, death and taxes. I’d argue there is a third: change. Life always turns out different than we expect. Sometimes our dreams and aspirations fade and disappear into the sunset. Sometimes we manage to feel the joys of high achievement…but it never happens along the exact path we envisioned at the start. This realization is uncomfortable to some. The idea that we can never really execute our plans... But there is a secret very few people know. The best path, and subsequent result is SUPPOSED to be completely different than you initially planned on.
I had a friend in high school tell me an amazing story, and it has stuck with me ever since. This friend of mine was once on a ferryboat. He was bored, and decided to kill time by observing the people around him. Sitting right near him was a man sketching a picture. It was a beautiful drawing of a great blue whale. At exactly the wrong moment, a wave hit the boat and it caused the man’s hand to jerk, leaving an ugly and unplanned squiggly line right through the middle of his drawing. My friend turned away at this point, thinking “oh well, the picture is ruined.” Several minutes later his eyes found the drawing again, and he was amazed to see instead of scrapping the piece, the artist had worked that unplanned squiggly line into the whale’s tail. He had taken an accident, something he could not foresee or plan for, and worked it into his final product.
Whether you are training for a marathon, starting a business, or buying a house, the steps you will take to get there will never be what you initially envisioned. But at the end of the day, once you cross the finish line, get your company off the ground, or move into your home, you can rest easy knowing that they path you took was the right one for you.
It is scary to think about, but no matter what you are trying to accomplish, whatever you are thinking or planning on at the beginning, it is not right. The beautiful thing? Your plan is not supposed to be right. There is no way it ever could be. No one can see the future, and exterior influences mean that it is impossible for anyone to account for any contingency. Getting to the right path is a journey. It means adapting to the cards you are dealt in a constantly changing landscape. It means having a clear sense and unwavering focus on your desired outcome, but being extremely flexible on how you get there. I always say there is not one specific path up the mountain. There are many paths and a single path is not necessarily better than the other as long as you eventually get to the finish line. Otherwise known as the top of your mountain. In my experience, every business venture I have ever made has taken me down an unexpected path. I firmly believe that every entrepreneur, business owner, CEO, VP, manager, etc. will tell you the same. Whatever the plan is at the outset, the only certainty is that the plan will change. As long as you accomplish your goal, then the path you took was the right one, but there is no way to know the right combination of steps and decisions that will get your to your goal until you live it. So stop sitting on the sidelines, trying to perfect your plan of attack and get in the game!