Thursday, September 17, 2009

Trail Running - Finding New Ways to Get Where

A few weeks ago, I was running up in the foothills. My wrong turn ended up being a very pleasant side trip down a protected canyon. It made me thing about my career, as I've been looking for a job. My career has had some often-strange turns that ended up making the overall journey more satisfying.

Everyone wants the "perfect job." And some people are single-mindedly focused on finding it. I am often so caught up in what I'm doing (or looking at the ground to avoid tripping as I run), that I will miss the "right" opportunity or turn. I now need to explain these changes on my resume as I talk about my experiences in interviews. However, they have given me a better view of the landscape that I'm in, that had I traveled on the same trail that everyone was doing.

Why did I agree to build a consulting team for an email marketing software start-up, when what I wanted was the product marketing position? Why? Because I had been a client and knew the client-side. I was able to learn how to scope realistic projects, balance resources and manage customer satisfaction. Sounds like the right way to manage a marketing campaign to me!

Why did I go to a company that seemed to be doing hardware in a highly technical niche? The management team was trying new online business models years before most companies thought about them. How exciting to be running the web marketing and looking for ways to deliver software and technical information faster, cheaper and more effectively! We got to learn and make mistakes before many of the Internet companies got going. Not a terribly exciting market, but a great learning experience

You always hear that "it's the journey, not the destination" that makes a difference. For some of us, that's definitely the case. These side-trips have taught me patience, although I still struggle with the thought of not finding the perfect job yet. But that's OK, because even on the trail, I often stop to see where I am, or even to rest. Life is like that too, particularly when family and work are demanding at once. Sometimes I need to appreciate where I am, even if I'm not sure at the time.

These rests in between jobs are good in letting me assess where I've been and some of the directions that I might go in. I say "might" because you never know what detour is around the corner. However, by having my plan in my head, I will more likely pick the way that leads to another goal. Even if it's a detour, I will still get to where I want, but learn something new along the way.