Thru Traffic Merge Left

Ah, the 101 freeway, my home away from home.  I spend an awful lot of time there and find that I contemplate the world in thoughts that start and stop with the rhythm of the traffic.  The other day, the traffic was actually moving for once and I suddenly found myself in an exit only lane.  The yellow diamond shaped sign said “Thru Traffic Merge Left” and I had a revelation about passion.

Passion you say?  How could a traffic sign possibly bring you to that thought? Stay with me a second.  Sometimes in business and in artistic pursuits, your passion can blind you to the road ahead. You may miss the signs that tell you that you might be in an exit lane when you really want to be on open highway.

Passion is about focus.  When I am in the middle of a deal, it’s very easy for me to become passionate about getting the best deal for my client. My focus becomes so single minded, the tendency can be to bull through and close a lopsided deal.  Lopsided deals seem good for a moment, but never serve the long term goals of my client. I trained myself a long time ago to step back and listen carefully to the other party and their needs, and assess, so I don’t miss any important signs and am able move lanes when necessary.

A frequent comment I hear from clients is:  “My lifestyle is such that I have to take money jobs and what I really want to be working on are projects that mean something to me.”  Believe it or not, this happens as a result of passion.  This comes from being passionate about the work, ANY work, while you’re getting your early opportunities.  You live your life, have a family, buy cars, a house, etc… Before you know it, you get stuck doing the same types of projects all the time because those types of projects have become your core business.

It’s not hard to change lanes on the highway.  Put your blinker on (indicate your move,) , check your mirrors (assess your risk) and turn the wheel slightly (make your move.)  It’s not hard in business either.  Make a solid, specific plan to make it happen (indicate your move,) consider the options (assess your risk,) and begin to move.

I’m not saying this is easy, it’s just not hard.  You can slowly assess and adjust your core business.  Just as you don’t dart from lane to lane on the highway without looking, you don’t just instantly diversify the type of projects you work on.  It’s a process of small sacrifices (usually financial) and experimentation, reassessment and continual incremental moves.

What lane are you in?  Is it the lane you want to be in?  Are you even going the right way on the highway?  What can you do in your personal life to perhaps cut back and make a wider array of options possible?  Have you enlisted help from your spouse, agent, mentors and other contacts in devising a plan of diversification?

The good news is:  It’s possible for you to stop being a victim of passion and use your passion to diversify your career.  You just need a clear plan, patience to implement it and good communication with those around you.  This week I challenge you to write down in several paragraphs what your career looks like now and what you want it to look like three years from now.  In coming weeks, I am going to guide you through a goal setting process, essentially a map of how to get there.  For now it’s important for you to figure out what you want the destination to be.  Too often we just drive and go where the road takes us.  If you want to get to Chicago and you don’t use a map, you’ll pretty much just drive around forever and never get there. Capiche?

Just a couple of paragraphs and you can start to figure out what lane your in and what lane you should be in!  Trust me, I spend a lot of time on the road.

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