Which path are you taking?

Two spaniels on a path through a field, going in opposite directions along the path and just about to pass each other

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I was out the other day taking some time to enjoy the lovely weather that just popped back in to the North of the UK for a short period of time, after a spell of rain, I guess the ground needed it so I am not complaining.

Anyway, the reason I was out soaking up the sunshine was to exercise my two spaniels, two lovely dogs who have a naturally high demand for exercise and I really love the opportunities that I get to head out on to the local stray land to let them enjoy the blend of terrain that exist on the site. Some wooded areas, some long grass and some shorter grassland that has been a hive of activity recently for those who have been exercising during social distancing/lockdown. 

I really enjoy the time out from sitting behind my desk, a good stride out with my dogs and a real opportunity to reflect on my life and consider my business direction for the coming days, weeks, etc… I have recently started taking a few pictures on my phone as memories of the time out so when I am at my desk I can look back and remind myself why I have the dogs, particularly as they now appear to barking at the ever increasing number of home delivery visits in recent times.

A couple of the pictures taken the other day got me thinking about my personal and professional direction of travel and how I can share my learning with others too. So here goes.

The picture below starts to unpack all sorts of emotions and reflections for me. You can just make out in the first picture two paths running through the stray land which have been created by people walking 2 metres apart, clearly one is used more than the other, just as my dogs are doing, heading down the well-trodden path. The other path is less explored and is slightly overgrown, I wonder why they are not taking that one, which one is the quickest and most direct to get to the mission, in this case to reach me. But, which path are you on, the one that is well trodden that you have been down many times before or the more adventurous path with the unknown underfoot, hidden by the long grass, difficult to navigate, more risk as it is nearer to the road, I guess they have decided but which one are you going to take?

Two spaniels on a path through a field, going in opposite directions along the path and just about to pass each other

As we can see both spaniels are very much aligned and on the same path, admittedly facing in opposite directions, but all the same they are on the same track and making use of the shorter more efficient grass to run or walk to accomplish their mission.

This got me thinking of my own business and businesses in general that we are often on the same path doing the same thing that we have always done, rarely treading the other path to have a look, try it out, see how it fits our business. I am also reminded that in business we might not always be facing in the same direction as each others, but does this necessarily mean that we are working against each other or could we just be seeing a different perspective as we pass on our journey. 

In the picture above my spaniels have the briefest of opportunity to see eye to eye with each others as they pass, are we travelling so fast along our own path that we fail to even see what is right in front of us? You can see the black and white spaniel is really focussed as she even has her tongue sticking out in full concentration! 

Or is it the heat! She is clearly on her mission!

How much in business do we focus on what is going on right in front of us as we move along the same path but in different directions, do we give a passing glance to other factors or are we so focussed on where we are heading, tongue out, full concentration on the mission in hand that we forgot to make sure others that are travelling with us are travelling in the same or right direction.

I just want to explore this a little bit further by introducing to you the photograph that I took only seconds before the picture above, as I think this has much to teach us about the path we are on and the direction we are travelling in.

Two spaniels on a path through a field, going in opposite directions along the path and towards each other

In business, of course, we all need to be working to the same mission and understand there are many paths that exist and available for us to achieve our goals

If we take the picture to the left, lets explore what this can teach us about being on the right path. 

I couldn’t complete this piece without talking about the current pandemic world and the personal challenges that this brings us all, we have all clearly been sent down another path(s) by our employers, by our Government or by our own personal circumstances, all of which have been and continue to be challenging, for many this has provided us the opportunity to think and reflect on the path we are on and hopefully you have asked yourself if is it the right path for you? 

So many questions have arisen out of this recent period for me, if I use the picture to illustrate a way to consider choices; The black and white spaniel is focussed,  heading to where she needs to be and clearly wants to do this as quickly as possible, the brown spaniel in contrast, is actually heading in the direction that we are all travelling in, he is much slower and calmer, after all he is after all 5 years older (although I am not suggesting age slows us all down), he will arrive at the destination at exactly the same time as the black and white one and will gain the same reward at the end of the whole journey we have all been on. 

So why does the black and white spaniel operate differently? Why does she always expend more energy than the other spaniel and still achieve the same goal. This brings about a whole discussion around behaviour which I will save for another time.

Which is the right path? This is really down to you, your missions, goals and the journey you are prepared to take to achieve the outcomes you truly want. Life is full of choices and decisions, taking the time to plan them and work them through is the tough bit, but planning is essential.

Whatever path(s) you choose, do it for you (and your business), you are the most important in your life, as for the dogs, they will thank you, whatever you decide.