Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Revolving Doors of Life

Go ahead... Give it a push...
I spent the last nearly 5 months of my life commuting to and from the New York City area during the workweek for my job as a consultant. This past week I was coming up from a New Jersey PATH station to my client site and per the routine, walked through a revolving door to the street and then another into my client's building where I would remain for the day doing my work.

Only this time the ride through the revolving door caught my attention.

My general nature is to figure out how things work, find parallels with other personal experiences from my life, and translate my understanding into potent metaphors. Occasionally these metaphors are worth sharing and my revolving journey is one of these instances.

Since my cancer diagnosis in April 2010 I've been working hard to understand my values, personality, and strengths in an effort to get to a better place in my life. For as long as I remember I bought into the paths to success that were laid before us through schooling and employment:

If you do what others did to be successful, you will be successful...

Follow the proven methods that worked in the past...

Through my introspection I realized who I was and what I aspired to personally was not lining up with the path I was walking down. So, I began to make changes to my personal and professional life by pushing through some uncomfortable situations in an effort to get closer to what made me happy (i.e. my passions).

Kind of like pushing through a series of revolving doors...

The way I see it, somewhere out there between you and a life more in line with your true self are revolving doors just waiting for you. Unfortunately, like real revolving doors, along the way we run into forces that keep us from finding and/or getting through our own doors.

I present you with The Workhorse, The Freeloader, and The Hesitator.

You know The Workhorse. They are the ones who push the door so fast it's almost scary. Professionally they will follow orders and tell you that the only path to the top is to do what the bosses did to get there (e.g. more hours, sacrifice of personal life, etc). In many companies, being the Workhorse who will "run through walls" for the organization is the one that's rewarded in the near term. The Workhorse may never find their own revolving door, but will provide the horsepower to push those at the top further along just hoping that the mental bargain of doing what they are told will pay off in the long run.

Then there's The Freeloader. They sneak into the door under the radar and have others push them through rarely offering to reciprocate the effort. This is the person who is stuck in a door (maybe not the right one!) waiting for someone to push them through to the other side not knowing where it will lead just that they are supposed to go through it. Unfortunately for them, unless they wake up and realize the only way to their true talent is to find their door and push with their own power they will be stuck in a life of blaming others for their lack of progress.

Finally we have The Hesitator. These types cause traffic jams by messing up the rhythm and flow by waiting until they are sure they can make it through. This person is standing in front of the right door that will lead them to more happiness, but are too afraid to leave the safe harbor of their current state and will tell you to do the same. On some days The Hesitator may go in and push all the way around only to keep going until he is right back where he started for fear of doing something different. Kind of like riding to the top of a ski lift, not getting off, and riding all the way back down the slope.

Good idea, poor execution.

Me on may way out...  Look out life, here I come!
Chances are you are like me and have bits and pieces of these traits in you and that's OK. Acknowledging their existence so you can harness their energy in a positive way is the first step in moving towards finding your own doors and moving to a better you.

This Thursday around 4:15pm I will make my last journey out of my client's revolving door in Jersey City, NJ before starting a new job in Chicago.

Will this be my dream job?

I don't know, but it's closer than I've ever been...

And I am going to keep pushing through my doors because I know there is a better me on the other side.