To Stay the Course Or Not? How Do You Decide?

Sep 28, 2015   //   by Gail Barker   //   Previous Blog Posts  //  No Comments

stay-the-course-e1375311576141To Stay the Course Or Not? How Do You Decide?

One of the things I know for sure is that every human being wonders from time to time about the path that they’re on: whether it’s right or wrong, where it’s headed, how best to travel on it. The question I’ve been holding in my own life and leadership – as I tend to do at this time of year – is this: what do you do when you realize you’re on the wrong path? When it comes to the journey of life, whether you’ve simply taken a wrong turn, or chosen the wrong destination, or aligned yourself with the wrong travelling companions, what do you do when you realize that you’ve made a mistake?

Well, the way I see it, you’ve got a couple of options. You could choose to stay the course and see what transpires. Maybe this so-called wrong path will actually take you where you want, even though it doesn’t seem to be aligned at the moment. After all, there’s something to be said for being patient and persistent. Or, you could choose to take the nearest exit and attempt to reroute yourself, finding a path that feels more direct. Notice that I didn’t say finding an “easier” path, just a “more direct” one, if that’s possible. Either way, you’ve got to take a moment to stop, think and choose (or re-choose, as the case may be).

If you’re finding yourself travelling with companions that no longer feel aligned with your chosen direction, you’ve got other options. You could find a way to leave them behind; perhaps you race ahead, maybe you take an alternate route, or maybe you simply part ways. Or you could find a perspective that allows you to continue travelling with them, based on the idea that you’d rather travel with someone than on your own. This latter option, however, only works if these companions aren’t holding you back or keeping you stuck and playing small. If they are in any way preventing you from reaching your destination, then you really are better off parting ways and finding new companions.

I guess the reason I’m exploring this question right now is that I see far too many settling on their life’s journey. There’s almost an air of “well, I’m on this path, I guess I’ll just stick it out.” On the surface, this seems almost commendable; I mean, there’s something about “stick-to-it-iveness” that is praise-worthy, don’t you think? And yet, that same stick-to-it-iveness could be read as banging your head against a wall, and you and I both know that this doesn’t get you anywhere except perhaps on the couch with a wicked headache.

Bottom-line: travelling your life’s journey – just like travelling on any journey – requires a willingness to stay the course (travelling through storms, road construction and heavy traffic) coupled with an ability to stay alert and determine when the path you’re on no longer serves. When the path you’re on reaches this point, it’s time to course correct: take the nearest exit, find new travelling companions, or alter your destination. Staying the course is admirable; adjusting your plans, however, so that you reach the destination you’re actually meant to, while enjoying the journey as best you can is what is truly commendable. So take the time to decide; will you stay the course? Or is it time to take the nearest exit?

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