Friday, September 6, 2013

Not Having It All Figured Out

I had a revelation at my biotech job today.

I was in my "career development" meeting. I had been given, prior to this meeting, a series of worksheets I could use, if I wanted, to determine my career aspirations and lay out a path to achieve them. The worksheet is currently sitting blank on my desk.

My boss (who, I have to say, is amazing and is the best boss I've had, and I've had lots) knows that I am changing careers and building my own business. In fact, she supports me in this endeavor, and our meeting today was designed around how I can best spend my remaining time with the company developing skills that will help my own business succeed while still being worth what they pay me.

She asked if I'd used the worksheet. I couldn't help but chuckle. "No," I replied. "That's not really how I think about business or my career."

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"To me, business isn't about having it all figured out. My business will be about making mistakes and learning from them, or doing things right and figuring out what worked about them. My direction is gained from insights I have while watching Ted talks with friends or chatting during dinner or over late-night coffee. I can't use a form to determine the direction my life will take. My business will connect me with people in ways that benefit us both. My business is not corporate; it's human."

Okay, fine, I didn't say it that eloquently, on the spot in the middle of a meeting, but you get the idea.

Not only can I not map the shape of my future by filling out a form, I'm not sure that anyone can. Corporations make this mistake all the time. Companies are not made of metrics, they're made of people, and people don't fit neatly inside checkboxes add multiple choice questions.

Where do I want my business to end up? I have no idea. Really, I don't. I know where I want it to be in a year, maybe five, but in the end? Who knows?

And would it really matter if I thought I knew? Between now and "the end" I will meet new and amazing people who will change my whole perspective on things. I'll survive heartbreak and tragedy and possibly major trauma. My views will shift, maybe radically. I am so distant now from the person I was at 22, why should I think I will be anything like I am now in ten, twenty, or fifty years? I might be several other people along that road.

And my business will change and grow, and yes, maybe fail. But that's the whole point. It will be an experience, a journey, a network.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go translate this to bullet points and upload it into my Development Tracker.

1 comment:

  1. I like this post very much. Humility is the beginning of wisdom. To comprehend that you don't know the future is wise. Kudos.