Every time I watch the Olympics I get inspired. Vancouver was no exception. Whether it was Shani Davis, Julia Mancuso, Joannie Rochette, Evan Lysacek or Jeret Peterson, each athlete had a story to tell about how they got there. I think about the commitment, the training, and the sacrifice each has made to get to where they are now. You have to have one heck of a lot of passion, talent and perseverance to pull off an Olympic medal, let alone just getting to the Olympics.
The Olympic athlete’s path to success is similar in many ways to the career discovery process. Like the Olympic pursuit, career discovery is never a quick or simple process and it takes a lot of perseverance to find that which is rewarding to us. While we may not all be Olympic athletes, we all have dreams of who we want to become. The critical piece is discovering what that dream is and settling for nothing less, no matter how long it takes, or how many sacrifices we must make along the way.
Unfortunately, many individuals settle for mundane, and often less than stimulating jobs and careers. While this may be necessary in some circumstances (i.e. to meet short term financial needs) it should never be the end result or goal. Yet even the thought of putting effort into unlocking one’s Life Purpose is something many people can’t find the energy to muster. It’s just too darn much work and besides it’s easier to stay right where we are. After all, the paychecks will continue to roll in. The ‘comfort zone’ becomes the acceptable norm as we wonder if we will ever find that job or career that truly stimulates us.
I challenge you to look at the passion in the eyes of our recent Olympic competitors and think about what it took for them to get to where they are. First, they identified their innate talents and developed the skills and knowledge required to follow their passions; whether it be downhill skiing, figure skating or the half pipe. And, they pursued their passions with unwitting compromise. It took years for many of them to get to where they are today. While it was a long road, it was the journey that sustained them.
In our career lives, we also have talents, skills and passions that are waiting to be channeled. We must embrace the journey (no matter how long it takes) as we uncover that which is truly meaningful to us. When we reach that goal, the road traveled will be well worth the effort and time it took to get there.
The path to career discovery is not a quick fix and can take time. Often the journey is every bit as rewarding as the end goal. Ask any of our Olympic athletes and I bet they would agree the journey was as rewarding as that piece of hardware worn around their necks.