You grow up learning that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line – but that’s not ALWAYS the case.
In fact, when it comes to self-improvement, that’s usually not the case.
Here’s what I mean.
All my life, I wanted to be a successful businessman.
From the moment I graduated college, I went full steam ahead working towards that goal. My career began in food service, and I worked my way up fairly quickly – first managing a hospital cafeteria, then a hotel coffee shop, then the rooftop restaurant of that hotel, then the Hard Rock Cafe and the Sporting Club in New York. For many years, I worked 12-hour days, seven days a week. I wanted success badly, and I was more than willing to sacrifice my social life – and even some of my physical health – in the process.
It seemed like a logical path. I was good at managing, I worked hard, and I got promoted to successively bigger positions. I was traveling my straight line, and I was traveling fast.
But in my late twenties, I kind of hit a wall. Towards the end of my time managing the Sporting Club, I began to feel burned out physically and emotionally. I had trouble sleeping.
I still wanted to climb the career ladder – wanted to stick to my straight line – but it was impossible. I was in no condition to reach the higher rungs in the state I was in.
A friend recommended a therapist, and I began seeing her twice a week. The year or so I spent with her was amazing. She helped me see that I was still a bit angry from my childhood. She helped me come to terms with some longstanding issues. She helped me adopt a more positive outlook on life. She helped me improve my relationships with family and friends.
I had gotten far in a short time, but I wasn’t going to be able to get any further without some self-improvement.
I had to abandon my straight line for a while. I had to spend some time sharpening my ax. I had been blindly chopping away with it so much that it had grown dull. That’s why I was burnt out. My therapist didn’t just help me get my mojo back – she helped me reach a mojo I never even knew I had.
After that, my career grew in a more sustainable way. And the rest, as they say, was history.
But I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t had the courage to veer off that straight line for a bit. To stop chopping so I could sharpen my ax.
My question to you is – How sharp is your ax?
If you feel like you’re not getting closer to a goal of yours, it might be time to take a little detour.
So that later, you’ll come back stronger than ever.