You’ve undoubtedly seen it, heard it, experienced it, been told to do it, and probably have told other people to do it: set clear goals and go for it. Push. Drive. Succeed. Get your “Type-A” on.
And it’s not necessarily a bad idea, except for when it is.
There are times to pursue things very directly. The straight-line approach is powerful and useful, when it’s appropriate. The challenge is that it’s not always appropriate, but most of the advice, self-help, coaching approaches and advice from your well-intended friends seem to use it as a default.
Here’s the deal: you have to read the terrain.
Straight lines are tempting. We use some simple math and remember that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and so we’re, “Damn, I want to get this handled so I’ll take the shortest route please!” But the shortest route isn’t always the shortest route. Sometimes you have to meander a little, perhaps even seemingly “drift” in the eyes of others.
I’ve done my fair share of straight lines, and there are some that I’m following right now. But in a broader sense, I’m in more of a nomad phase these days, and there are definitely people who think I’m lost, aimless, and off-track. I’m not. And if the terrain you’re facing requires a lot of turns on your part too, don’t confuse that with being off-track. You may be moving forward perfectly.
It’s tempting to encourage everyone to get on the “straight and narrow,” but life is rarely that convenient. Meander if you have to, and don’t take any straight-line advice B.S. from anyone unless they really understand the terrain you’re facing.