"Nobody’s career honestly ever goes as planned. You’re going to hit a lot of bumps and rough spots that will seem impossible to resolve, but..."
I'm sure you've heard the expression, "everything always works out for the better" before. Over and over again in my career I’ve seen it proven. Whether things really work out for the better or it’s just the way we rationalize events in our lives, here are some of my own career benchmarks that demonstrate the point.
- Back in the 70’s I was at Polaroid. I got caught in a lay-off and lost my job as a staffer in Personnel. (No HR in those days – so I guess I’m dating myself!) I was crushed to lose my dream job. I had seniority bumping rights and bumped into Customer Service. Had it not been for that change I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to relocate to Illinois with the service department, which led to a promotion to Regional Services Manager, which led to coming back into Corporate, which eventually led to an offer to be president of Hasselblad USA.
Okay, it’s a little bit of time stretch, but I was crushed when I lost the job of my dreams staffing for Polaroid. However, that one single change in my career path took me into a completely new direction, one I had never anticipated. That job led to working with some incredible people and building my "stash" of experiences, all while continuing to gain an invaluable understanding of the industry and corporate culture.
- Leaving Hasselblad in 1999, I was part of an Internet start-up called PhotoAlley. The concept was to develop a sense of community with an online retail store. PhotoAlley went under after two and a half years and I found myself in the unemployment line, literally. Again, I was crushed – PhotoAlley was supposed to be my shortcut to fame and fortune. However, had it not been for PhotoAlley collapsing with the rest of the Internet, I never would have had the opportunity to move to California and be president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI, which was another pivotal point in my career.
- Fast forward to spring of 2009 and after a long series of disagreements with the owner of the company, I realized it was time to do something of my own. I started my own company in the worst economic climate of my life time and had one person after another tell me I was nuts. Well, here I am, doing exactly what I love to do most and while I'm putting in more hours than I've probably ever done in my life, the benefit of being able to work on those projects most important to me, gets me out of bed every morning with a smile on my face!
I’ve seen this scenario repeated over and over again in my life, both in business and personal situations and given the time and space I could probably give you another dozen examples, but here’s the point.
Nobody’s career honestly ever goes as planned. You’re going to hit a lot of bumps and rough spots that will seem impossible to resolve, but the reality is that everything you experience, good or bad, are building blocks to help make you stronger. Learn from each mistake. Build a network of friends and associates whose experiences you can learn from and then help somebody else when you see them going through a similar challenge.
While setbacks are disappointing, they’re nothing more than speed-bumps to let you know whatever the idea or project was, it wasn’t fully baked! Be patient, stay focused on your dreams and don't give up.
"Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown." Ross Perot
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