Don’t despise the path.

You may not have chosen it, but that does not mean it is not yours. The path is the way forward. It’s your way forward.

Don't despise the path. You may not have chosen it, but that does not mean it is not yours. The path is the way forward. It's your way forward. Click To Tweet

Decades ago, my friend, Rudy was a doctor in Mexico. He left his practice and brought his family to the United States for a better life. At the time, he had no idea the opportunities on his path. He took a leap and trusted his own journey.

His path led him to working as an hourly team member in a Chick-fil-A restaurant in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. On weekends, he traveled back to Mexico to cut sugar cane so that he could support this family. He worked for 10 years before he had the opportunity he had dreamed about for years. He wanted to become a Chick-fil-A franchisee, himself.

The only opportunity available to Rudy was the lowest volume restaurant in the chain located in a different city. Rudy decided that if that was his opportunity to do the one thing he wanted to do, he would take it. He moved his family again and continued on his path. What happened next was nothing short of amazing.

Rudy did not lament how impossible his situation seemed. He had already overcome impossible. He did not complain about all of the challenges of this low volume restaurant located in a dying mall. Instead of despising his path, Rudy embraced it.  His decision to find a way forward led to remarkable success. In short, he turned around the restaurant in the unfavorable location and turned in an award winning performance within Chick-fil-A. He increased sales and profits astronomically and won the chain’s highest sales award. Then he did it again the next year. He earned an opportunity to relocate to a higher volume location and he created success all along his path wherever it led.

Eventually, Rudy was selected to become the franchisee at a freestanding location right back in McAllen, TX where it all began for him. He did well, very well. He earned the rare opportunity to operate two freestanding locations in the McAllen, Texas area. Last week, Rudy accomplished something truly phenomenal. He opened his third Chick-fil-A restaurant. Very few Chick-fil-A franchisees are awarded three restaurants. It all happened because of hard work, persistence, resilience and a refusal to despise his path even when it was hard. He had one more quality: patience. It takes a lot of patience to see our path develop and take us to a desired destination.

When I was leaving college over 3 decades ago, the United States was in the middle of an economic recession. Jobs were scarce, inflation was high, interest rates soaring and my career dreams looked impossible. I wanted to be a writer and it was the only thing I had wanted to do from the time I was 8 years old.

What I realized in those days of the early 1980’s is that my path wasn’t available at the moment. Even though I had studied journalism, had already published articles and even had a few good contacts, I didn’t have enough life experience at the time to write about anything that someone would want to read. Additionally, times were tough and I could not support myself writing. The first twist in my path was that I went into the advertising field hoping to use my journalism skills. That first job later led me to interviewing for a job in advertising at Chick-fil-A. After months of interviewing, instead of accepting a job offer in advertising, I accepted a position in human resources and it seemed I was now far off the path and the dream of being a writer was fading.

A few years into my role, I came to realize that my path was to help others find their path and I didn’t think much further about my dreams to write books. Although it was not the path I imagined, I soon fell in love with it and accepted it was part of my journey. Fast forward to 30 years into the human resources career, and I received an offer to write my first book. The path I had been on provided the content for me to fulfill my original career ambition. Without all of the twists and turns of the path of the previous 30 years, I would not have been able to realize the fulfillment of my greatest ambition.

Are you struggling on your path and unsure it is leading you exactly where you wish to go? Then you might consider some of the perspectives I learned and no doubt Rudy learned as well going from a place of uncertainty to accomplishing lifelong dreams:

 

  • Do the next thing. Sometimes in our impatience, we get so far ahead of ourselves that all we can see are the obstacles on the path. We can’t imagine how we are going to overcome them so we quit before we even get started. Trust that you will have what you need each step along the journey. Take the first step, then the next step, and then the next and try not to get too far into the future.
  • Write down your goals. While the path requires patience, it is still important to write your goals down and place them somewhere that you will see them often. When the path becomes hard, your written goals will remind you of why you push through obstacles.
  • Pick up tools along the way. Every experience on the path is likely important to achieving your goals. What might feel like a detour at the time, is really a learning experience that you will likely use to reach your goals. Pick up the tools and place them in your toolbox for use later.
  • Bring others on the journey. None of us achieves success on our own. Carefully select traveling companions who will help you and be sure to help them achieve their dreams, too! Compensate for your weaknesses with the strengths of others. Use your strengths to help other grow. Together, you all will be more likely to reach your individual goals.
  • Don’t look back. Even if you think you have taken a wrong turn or lost your way, keep going. You can’t change the past, but only impact the future. Success is always forward, so keeping moving forward and pay attention to the signs and directions that keep you traveling toward your goals.
Even if you think you have taken a wrong turn or lost your way, keep going. You can't change the past, but only impact the future. Success is always forward, so keep going. Click To Tweet

Eleven years into my career, I met Rudy. He sat on the couch in my office at Chick-fil-A and I selected him to be the franchisee of that first low volume mall restaurant. Both of us were not on the path we imagined at the time, but they intersected for a purpose. My path was helping others find their path and that was certainly what I was doing with Rudy at the time. His story taught me many lessons about selecting talent and would fully come to the forefront when I finally wrote my first book. We were an important part of each other’s path.

That wasn’t the end of the story. Last week, on the morning of the grand opening of his third restaurant, Rudy sent me a text to tell me about his big day.  His dreams came true and impacted the lives of thousands of employees and customers  because 25 years ago, he did not despise his path and 35 years ago, I did not despise mine.

More of Rudy’s story and mine can be found in my current book: Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture that Wins the Hearts of Customers

If you would like to learn more about how to follow your own path and Crush Your Career, pre-order my newest book, here:

Crush Your Career: Ace the Interview, Land the Job and Launch Your Future

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