The straight road or the squiggly path? Taking the road trip route.
We all have a choice in life.
We can take the straight, single-minded route to our goal (the one on the left).
Or we can take the less-direct, squiggly route (the right).
The route on the left feels like the grown-up way to go. It’s what we expect ‘a plan’ to look like. A neat, uninterrupted line towards our goals. Towards that job promotion, towards retirement, or whatever it might be.
The one on the right, on the other hand, looks a bit of a mess. Instead of a straight line, it’s spaghetti. It’s all over the bloody place.
Me? I chose the spaghetti.
I chose squiggly over straight.
I chose uncertainty over certainty.
I chose to follow my curiosity rather than stick to a plan.
My career has — no exaggeration — been one big adventure (full of ups and downs; watch my Do Lecture). It’s taken me all over the place. But still heading in the right direction — towards me, via the scenic route.
Choosing the path on the right is like a road trip. When we take a road trip we’re not trying to get from A to B as fast as possible; we want to enjoy the journey. We want to explore the side paths, to stop and look at the view. We might meet someone interesting by the side of the road who’ll send us in a direction we hadn’t anticipated. We might travel without a map.
The road trip is about the journey not the destination.
That’s what I have chosen. To be comfortable navigating without a map, to allow myself to take random left turns, to not be so preoccupied with what’s on the horizon that I forget to enjoy where I am along the way.
And those spaghetti lines might look like a mess. But what I’ve learned is, in the heart of that ‘mess’, it’s where the magic happens.
On my road-trip-career, curiosity has been my compass. It’s allowed me to take those random left turns, to go where the water flows, to follow unplanned opportunities. And in that ball of spaghetti, I’ve added new strings to my bow, I’ve experimented, I’ve reinvented myself, I’ve tried my hand at new things.
Taking the curious path has been about going for the non-obvious. Being open not closed. Embracing uncertainty.
In my 18 years working for myself, I believe that my squiggly path, fuelled by curiosity and gut feeling, has been way more effective, and satisfying, than a conventional plan or linear path would have been. After all, it’s led me to my work today as storyteller, creative consultant and coach.
(and I couldn’t have plotted all that on a map).
Standing back and looking at the route I’ve taken, it might look like I have taken some weird detours, but it’s been an eventful journey and I’ve enjoyed the ride.
So if you feel stuck in a linear trajectory, and fancy seeing where life takes you, try following your curiosity. Stay open to opportunities, get comfortable with uncertainty and embrace serendipity. Choose the right path…
I’m a creative consultant, storyteller and coach on a mission to bring a fresh perspective to organisations, businesses and individuals, getting people fired up. Curiosity comes into play on every project I touch, whether that’s helping brands and businesses tell their story; running workshops on creativity, curiosity and storytelling to help teams think outside the bubble; taking executives and business leaders on walk-and-talks to navigate change in their work lives. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org, find me online at iansanders.com, follow me on Twitter @iansanders