Each Step Forward

 

Everyone begins their journey naive, and sometimes… bold.

If you’re lucky, people put up with your naiveté long enough for you to gain wisdom. I was lucky in that regard. But I choose the startup route. It seemed to fit my strengths, which in most other areas were weaknesses.

Startups allow for the unknown to rise, there are fewer gatekeepers, so it’s easy to get in motion, but to come out the other side is a different story. If you do build a product with some traction, you’ll be amazed at what you can start to see unfold without having any prior knowledge…

You just put one foot in front of the other.

And you pick up the know-how you need in a just-in-time fashion.

But your first shot doesn’t always end well.

Ditto for your first job, or your early career.

And no one is truly qualified when they get out into the world. So you hustle to prove you’ve got the chops, you work the extra hours a day, or weekends, and you dedicate yourself to learning the internal language and structure. Maybe your boss is demanding in a way you didn’t expect, or the career you stepped into wasn’t as you expected it to be.

And is it ever?

We never truly know until we go through it. And it’s always more complex and winding than we think. Which is what we didn’t understand in our youth; that the professionals at the top have undergone a much greater journey to get there than we could have imagined.

In school, you’re always taught that there is a right answer, but in the real world not only are there always multiple answers, but there are also multiple methods for arriving there. And life’s not always fair.

And timing and luck dictate your path more than you’d like to admit.

That and that the work is so arduous, or so complex that you continue to question whether or not it’s for you. You get home at night and you put your head down and you’re wondering how you got here and who that person you were is now becoming…

But we can only hope for a role which demands that they must rise to an occasion much greater than the one we have chosen for ourselves.

That we’re forced to run up this mountain instead of walking it.

To walk it is to spend years or decades in small discomforts and a bit of pain before we reach a landing from which we can breathe.

To run up it is to spend only a few years of intense pain but to arrive much faster, and the added benefit is that you may, after taking only a short break there, look to the next mountain to run up. So it’s more painful, but you go farther, faster.

What we fail to remember is that with each step forward, another who wishes for the same successes or impact must walk every step that we have to date.

And it is in the pressure, the moments we have to rise to meet the occasion that we truly build our skill. It’s only when we’re walking on the edge through a mountain pass with cliffs on both sides that we begin to do something great.

That it is precisely these moments which are building the most fundamental parts of our journey.

That every new step forward is a learning you take with you in your pocket.

And this is your advantage.

 

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