Did you know the Apollo XI spacecraft was off course 98% of the time and they still got to the moon and back. The fairly primitive navigation system they used was inertial in essence. So, the craft continued along a straight course until acted on by an outside force. If you were to see the Apollo path the moon on paper, it would look like they zig-zagged the whole way there and back. But…they made there and back!!
One lesson to take from that situation: keep the end in sight and make all the course corrections you need along the way.
Just last week, our company president came back to provide an on-site information session about the direction of the company moving forward. Our industry (mostly government projects) is going through a period belt-tightening and hand-wringing as the entire industry begins to feel the effects of numerous budget-cutting measures. As he went through numerous facts and figures he also talked about the company’s approach to creating and nurturing its next generation of leaders.
For me, the entire thing was quite discouraging because I’m 10 years older than the group he said would be identified as the next generation of leaders. My family situation prevents me from relocating anywhere in the country or world at a moment’s notice, which automatically disqualifies me from a leadership role (at least HIS definition of leadership). And I don’t have a master’s degree and for that matter don’t even have my bachelor’s degree. Basically according to the corporate standards that have recently been set, I have virtually no future with this company.
And yes, I was VERY discouraged. Truth be told, I was beyond the point of discouraged and went straight to angry and feeling betrayed. I was so upset I made it a point to stay back for the face to face question & answer period with the company president. And I pointed out to him that he had basically told me it was totally pointless to do more than the bare minimum required to stay employed. And he agreed with me. He said he understood my point of view and would feel the exact same way if he were in my position.
For a few days, I’ll admit my immature emotional reaction was to punish the company for taking away my opportunity.
BUT…I realize it is time for a course correction.
First of all, I create my opportunities, not the company. Nothing they do, or fail to do, will ever change this simple fact. I, and I alone, am capable of creating opportunities for myself. As long as I learn to keep this in mind, I’ll be more than fine going forward.
Secondly, I can be a leader whether I have degrees or not. The more I think about it, the more I realize the corporate president wasn’t talking about leadership development – he was talking about developing management skills. I once heard it said that management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. And I can certainly do that, regardless of my age group or formal education level.
Last, I can flourish, thrive, lead and create opportunities anywhere God sees fit to place me on this planet. I don’t need to pull my family up by the roots to go chasing after the next rung on the corporate ladder. And it’s been my experience that the higher I climb on the corporate ladder, the more I realize it’s leaning against the wrong wall anyway.
So, tomorrow I’ll be sending the corporate president a quick email to let him know I’ll be back to normal starting this week. Which means, I’ll be working up to my own very high standards, creating my own opportunities and quietly but confidently leading right where I am.
Whew…feels good to be back on course again.