Keep Moving Forward

I finally signed up for Disney+ last week. I know, I know, probably the last one in the country to do so. But I finally took the plunge, and I’m enjoying it immensely. As I was catching up on some of their lesser-known classics yesterday, I happened to push play on “Meet the Robinson’s”. I recall seeing it in the theater and enjoying it, and yesterday I remember why. It tells the story of a young boy, an orphan, who wants nothing more in life than to have a family and invent cool stuff. Unfortunately, most of the time he fails pretty miserably on both counts. No matter how hard he tries, he just can’t seem to find the success he’s looking for. He becomes discouraged, and is about to give up, when just in the nick of time, he finds encouragement from an unlikely source, and is reminded to “keep moving forward!”

Isn’t this like us a lot of the time? We work hard and no matter how much the effort, success, or our definition of it, slips through our fingers. I remember a time when I was deeply discouraged. I had left a secure low-paying job for a new one that paid a lot more, but I pretty shortly discovered that I was not a cultural or technical fit. No matter how hard I tried, and how many new ideas I would come up with, I would get negative feedback, and very little support. I tried looking for a new job, I enrolled in a Master’s program, and still my situation didn’t change. I was miserable and I was making those around me miserable. I wanted to just quit, get in my beloved Mitsubishi Montero, and just keep on driving. I’m sure you know the feeling.

However, being the responsible adult that I am, instead of driving off in my Monty, I kept after it. I kept studying, I kept believing, I kept trying to be kind. And eventually, things turned around for me. At my darkest moment, someone reached out on LinkedIn, and two weeks later, I had a new job, and a much brighter outlook on life.

As a friend and former colleague is fond of saying to me, whenever I have a small failure and think I’m not on the right path, “try again!” In other words, keep moving forward. Who knows, that could be the moment things work out. Maybe not in the way we hope, but likely even better than we had ever imagined.

Which Way Do You Face?

I was reading a story recently, about a people who, hundreds of years before, had migrated from their homeland and come to a new, and unknown “Promised Land”. Although the new land was not quite perfect, part of the people had made the most of it, and prospered, and the other part, still pining for home, were less successful. The second group eventually built a culture and a city, to remind them of their ancestral home, even naming their city after it. In a sense, all these years later, they were still longing for the good old days, and still less prosperous than they could have been.

It occurred to me that sometimes we can be just like this people, perpetually looking behind us, seeking safety and security, even though even greater prosperity may lie ahead. Like the biblical story of Lot’s wife, facing the past immobilizes us to the point that we are unable to move forward and enjoy the fruits of change.

I get it, change is hard. And as humans, we are naturally risk-averse. Years ago I left a secure, though underpaid position, for the insecurity and potential of a new role. Though in the long run I ended up not being a fit for the role or the company, part of that is on me. I found it difficult adjusting to a new corporate culture, and struggled to leave the old role behind. Eventually, I found a new role in a new organization, only this time, I was happy to leave the ill-fitting role behind, and it was much easier for me to look ahead and enjoy the new organization.

So, my question for you today, is which way are you facing in your life and in your career? This global pandemic has left us feeling pretty insecure. Even leaving the house is risky. And many of us have had to deal with economic and personal losses. But it is also a great time to be alive. The sky is bluer, the air is clearer, and there IS opportunity available, but we have to choose it. We have to look ahead and move forward, trusting that we have what it takes to be successful, despite what’s going on around us. It may be scary, but it could also be really good.

What will you do today to face forward and take the next step?