Images via BOSSFIGHT

The Long Career Roadmap

I’m digging this post by Fred Wilson and it’s a post I’ve come back to a handful of times in the past few months.

I particularly like this part:

A big vision is critical for a big success. You have to know where you want to be in a decade or more. That’s where the long roadmap comes in.
But the mistake most entrepreneurs make is the try to ship most or all of their vision in their first product. And that’s a terrible idea.
The best companies start with a very narrow product that nails something pretty simple but powerful. And then they go from there.

You can read the rest of the post here:

Although the context of Fred’s post centered around building products for companies I thought that it aptly applied to one’s career path as well.

We all have big dreams about what we want to do and where we want to be but all of this is predicated on who you are as a person.

In other words, the who comes before the what and the where every single time. Or, taken from another angle, who you are informs what you will be doing and where you’ll be doing it and with whom you will be doing those things with.

The challenge is that developing our own person takes time, it’s about building character and developing integrity as a person, as a leaders, as a father, as a husband and spouse — it’s about taking a very long view on who you want to be and having all of those other things subject to this one master perspective.

This is a long roadmap and it is vital and I think it can be broken down into smaller “missions” or objectives, as Fred has suggested:

It’s like you want to drive from NYC to LA. You start by driving to Philly. Then you drive to Pittsburgh. Then Cincinnati, then St Louis, then Kansas City, then Denver, then Salt Lake City, then Las Vegas, and finally you drive to LA.
Each trip is its own thing and you plan it out carefully and then execute it with focus and energy, not thinking about where you want to end up beyond the next city.

Before you decide what you want to do I first suggest that you encounter or answer the question of who you want to be. This prioritization gives clarity in a number of significant ways.

Images via BOSSFIGHT
Images via BOSSFIGHT

In short, though, it allows you to start paring the options that you have off the table and it gives you the permission, although hard, to say “No” more often than not.

The question is difficult to ask and to answer so it’s not something that you can do alone. I think a combination of trusted friends, advisors, mentors and/or coaches is a good data set to consider inviting into the conversation. If you don’t have those, well, you already know where to start.

There are a ton of people who deeply care about what you will do with your life because many of them stand to gain directly from what you produce and the value that you create. But, only a handful of people, perhaps only you (at least right now), care about who you will become.

Ironically, in the end, everyone will come to note and focus on who you were as a person rather than what you did while you were alive.

You see, at your funeral you won’t hear much about the accomplishments, you’ll hear more about who she was as a person, how they treated others, and more about their integrity and moral fiber than any hill or mountain they’ve climbed.

The “eulogy test” is a quick but effective internal signal to let you know if you’re on the right track. If you were in the audience at your own funeral — what would you want to hear said about you?

Originally published at John Saddington.