One of my friends was taking stock of our batch the other day. It has been over two years since we passed out into the corporate world, fresh off the b-school production floor. We started together but our careers have gone in different directions and at different speeds. Right from the people who started working while in college and are still with their campus placed companies to others who’ve spread their wings a bit.
Ironically, at one end of the spectrum is one of my closest friends who has stayed in the same industry that she started in, completed a good two years, been promoted, shifted and moved on to different responsibilities. While I grace the other end with six months of unemployment, three jobs in two years and a sabbatical thrown in for good measure.
Some of my peers have accumulated more work experience than I have, some of them earn more than I do, several of them have moved up a rung on the corporate ladder. It made me think a bit.
I started my career five years back and since then I’ve done a fair bit of flying around. I have worked with an entrepreneurial venture as well as a multinational. I’ve been a part of an established organization, a growing company and a new foray. I’ve worked with different people, with very different viewpoints on different kinds of work. Most importantly I’ve been exposed to differing organizational cultures.
The experience of exploration is highly under-rated. Even more so in the corporate world where such things as loyalty and motivation are used as the bait in a carrot-and-stick routine. I don’t contest the fact that it is important for an organization to have people who stay with them in the long run. And certainly it is important for a person to invest sufficient time and energy in one area to be able to really plumb the depths.
And yet, perhaps as a result of our social conditioning or education system or upbringing or a combination of them all, we end up getting into things that other people want. Worse yet, when we realize it, we are held to the belief that it is too late to change.
I stopped running some time ago. It was the only real risk I’ve ever taken. It was also the best decision I ever made. Pausing to catch my breath made me realize that it wasn’t the running that bothered me, it was just that I was in the wrong race. And the best thing was realizing that I could stop running anytime I wanted. That peace of wisdom was worth the time that I may have lost out and fallen behind my peers.
I used to think that all the fun went out of people’s lives with childhood and adolescence. I was wrong. With independence of thought, of finances, of bodily security and freedom of movement….come the wings. And so what of a few wrong turns and broken feathers?
Flying is all that matters.