An early morning a couple weeks ago I was headed to a work conference. It ended up that this conference wasn’t at the typical convention center or hotel. Instead, it was located at a retreat out in the woods. While scenic, the road leading there was naturally winding and heavily wooded.
At one point, where the road narrowed to one lane in each direction, there was one of those electronic signs on the side of the road that typically flashes a multi-part message. In this case, there was only one part to the message displayed. It simply read, “Expect Delays.”
From my experience, these signs usually offer justification as to why there would be a delay. It might read “Road repair ahead.” And then “expect delays” following. But this time it did not. The sign just said “Expect Delays.” Normally I would have passed by this kind of sign paying little attention, but in this case (maybe due to the early hour or the peaceful surroundings) I found a deeper meaning in the message.
Time and time again (in our careers and lives in general) we make plans. We think through all the possibilities and details, catching as many variations as we can think of. Despite this analysis and planning, we are often wrong. Things don’t go as planned.
In my career (and life), I have found that many times when “things not going as planned”, it involves something taking more time than I would have expected. I generally get impatient, expecting faster results. This often leads to me giving up, or at the very least not give my 100% in following up and seeing things through.
Unfortunately, this feeling (and response) is something that plagues many millennials like me. We are used to instant gratification and feedback. We are used to getting things when we want them, how we want them. Success in your career (and life) just doesn’t work this way.
It is important for us to be patient when we embark on a journey to accomplish a goal. Whether it is something big like starting a company or something as simple as completing a project at work, realize that things won’t go as planned. Delays will invariably creep in, and if we aren’t ready for them, then we run the risk of giving up before we ever reach our goal.
While it is key to understand and anticipate delays, it is important to go one step further. We must build resiliency. The moment we get knocked down, we must get back up. Every delay that comes our way is an opportunity for another lesson that will help us avoid obstacles in the future (or at the very least will help us get over them faster).
We must also actively look for solutions. To beat these “delays,” we have to find ways to overcome them. Whether it be testing out a new strategy or flat out asking for help, it is better to fight through obstacles and delays instead of letting them happen to us.
As you drive down the road of your career, make sure to keep an eye out for delays. Often times there won’t even be a sign that tells you when or why they are coming. Remember not to just let these delays happen to you. Use them to your advantage. Take away key lessons, they will help you be smarter and more successful further down the road.
Just because you expect delays doesn’t mean that you have to like it. Meet these delays head-on; overcome them and carve out new roads of your own to explore.
Aaron McDaniel, is a corporate manager, entrepreneur, author, public speaker and community leader. Aaron has held numerous management roles at a Fortune 500 company, being one of the youngest ever appointed appointed Regional Vice President at the age of 27, and is the founder of multiple entrepreneurial ventures. Aaron instructed a highly rated student-led course on leadership at UC Berkeley’s Haas Undergraduate School of Business and has a book, The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead, and Rise to the Top, due to be out later this year. Aaron offers advice that helps young professionals build the foundation for a successful career. Visit his blog to learn more.