Four years ago, our mortgage office got some kind of inspirational pamphlet or something. It described a company with this great extended metaphor [and I'm sure I'm butchering it completely]:
Everyone in the company is in a big canoe. Each person has a paddle and must contribute to moving the canoe. If someone doesn't pull their weight, everyone else will have to pick up their slack. Each member of the team needs to understand the destination and how to work with the others to reach it.
So then you have to ask yourself, Do you want to be in the canoe? You might need to get out of this canoe and find another canoe that's going where you want to go.
This concept really stuck with me, but it took me awhile to admit I hated being in a corporate canoe. I got in just for a fun ride, and though I enjoyed paddling alongside good and funny people, I didn't want to go with them to Corporate Island Paradise.
So I left the canoe. I didn't even wait until we were near another island or another canoe, and I didn't even check to see how deep the water was; I just jumped out.
It was scary, but exhilarating. Where would I go? What would I do? Could I swim well enough to find another canoe? [This metaphor stuff is fun!]
Fast forward. I've survived a capsize in piranha-infested waters [that would be my first year], I've made friends with fellow paddlers, and seen both good and bad paddlers exit the canoe.
But here's the thing. When I keep my head down and focused, I don't mind what I'm doing in this work canoe. But when I take a breath and look around me, I don't always like who I'm with or where we're going, or how we're getting there. It seems like instead of one big canoe, we're a flotilla of individual canoes. And though everything looks peachy from far away, close up you'll find some people not moving at all, others moving sideways and just wasting energy, and some turned around going the other direction. Some clueless person is up front in a yacht telling us what to do, while our paddles are splintering and cracking under our hands.
I've begun to feel that I'm outgrowing my canoe. I'm not patient enough to wait for the long-promised new, supposedly unbreakable canoes and paddles. I'm working hard in my own canoe, but it turns out that maybe I'm spinning in circles.
So do I jump out again, in uncharted waters? I've done it before, am I brave enough to do it again? What's waiting for me in a new island chain--more piranhas? Dolphins who will support me, all friendly? Better canoes? Better leaders? Competent paddlers beside me?