Aside from short stretches of highway, very few roadways are straight. There are several reasons, landscape, keeping drivers alerts, and surface features being the most prominent. In fact, a winding road can be a bit more enjoyable to drive on.
I recently finished reading "The Dip" by Seth Godin. He uses roadway analogies about dips, cul-de-sacs, and cliffs to discuss issues related to the difficulties we often encounter along our journey. He suggests that the brightest people know when to quit and when to "lean into it" as he says, when things get rough.
Another book I am working on, albeit slowly, is "Founders at Work" by Jessica Livingston. Guy Kawasaki wrote about it a few weeks ago. Jessica is a founding partner in the Y Combinator. In her book, she brings together some of the great start-up stories of our time. One thing that struck me right off, most of these stories are still unfolding. Still, the experiences of the exciting and tumultuous days of these now famous Modern Magellans is not to be missed.
What I took from both of these books is that the road ahead is rarely what we think it will be. It may not even be what we wanted. The smart folks learn to read their maps and see what changes they have to make to get where they are trying to go or to an even better destination.
As I contemplate joining a start-up...
I think about some of these stories and I wonder if we will go where we are planning or if we will have a wild ride into an uncharted territory. These trips off the beaten path can "make all the difference" as Frost said, but they are not always pleasant. On the other hand, these sojourns can be extraordinarily exciting.
I suppose that the type of experience you have has a lot to do with how much control you feel at the time. If you can catch a vision of the promised land ahead, and you have a plan that looks like it can get you there, it's fantastic. If you are on a ride downhill, with no steering, and no brakes, it is terrifying. Try for the former, learn to enjoy the latter.
Which ride you get is not always yours to choose. If you have any degree of control, try to choose one with a clear path but just a bit of haze. If you are financially able, then you can handle the cost of the wild rides, and the stress levels are much less.
If you do not have a wild ride story, you have not been trying hard enough. I'm not saying you should plan to fail. Adversity does not need to be sought out. It will find you just fine.
As I said, I try to find reward along the way. I give my challenges all I can. I take comfort in my knowledge that I tried and I gave it my best shot. So what is your method for handling adversity?