Sheryl Sandberg shared some insightful career advice on Quora. She’s had a successful career (let’s just not talk about Facebook’s recent stumbles right now), but life has also thrown painful challenges and tragedy into her path.
As she states:
“There is no straight path to where you are going”
I think that most of us intuitively know this to be true. Look at the path you’ve already taken in your life. There are probably many twists and turns, and peaks and pits. It hasn’t been a straight path, but somehow we think of this as a failing on our part.
We mapped out the ideal journey, and the series of steps that we thought would take us from point A to point B. When we either discover that we must deviate from that straight line, or we are forced to make a course correction, we fight it.
We try to return to that straight path as soon as possible. But, life does not — and should not — work like that.
My unexpected path
My 26-year career has been nothing like I imagined when I started on this journey so long ago. I’m not even talking about my childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut or rock star, which seemed pretty exciting as a kid growing up in a small farm town in the Midwest.
The initial plans that I made as I entered college changed midstream. Then my experiences during graduate school took me from an anticipated path into quite another when I joined the working world of Silicon Valley.
Where I am today is not where I thought I would be even a few years ago.
Here is an overview of my twisting path and the variety of jobs I’ve had. It doesn’t include every job, believe it or not. Scroll quickly if you get bored. I won’t blame you.