The Kentucky Derby. Millions of people watching, drinking mint juleps and wearing the finest hats they can find. It’s what all trainers, jockeys and owners dream of. It’s what makes a three year old horse a legend. Growing up in an equestrian family, the Derby has provided some inspiration that I’d like to share with you.
Have you ever seen a horse race with blinders on? You know, those cups that fit around their eyes, causing tunnel-vision. The intention is to focus the horse on the task at hand, making it blind to other distractions. For some, this is effective, but for most, this could be a real limitation.
How does this relate to the job search or career advice? You see, blinders keep us focused on one specific task with one specific goal. We don’t see everything else around us. That could be good for a limited time, but in the end there’s so much more potential. We all have career aspirations. As a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut, cowboy, cartoonist, and yes, even a marine biologist (who didn’t want to do this in the 80’s and 90’s.) Even as an adult, I’ve found myself with my blinders on, oblivious to the opportunities just to the left or right of my focus. In fact, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t take those blinders off. When I was called to interview for the opportunity at my current employer, I was holding out for another position. I went ahead and traveled in for the interviews and my perception and goals were immediately changed. I saw great potential, but also knew that this career move could be a risk. I took that risk and can honestly say it was one of the best decisions in my life.
This is just one situation where the blinders had to come off. As you’re in the job search, think to the left and right (outside) of your current goals. Have a healthy “what if” plan and don’t be afraid to take a few risks. You never know where those decisions will take you. Relating to the horse race analogy, don’t always bet on the sure thing or the longshot. Aim in between. I don’t think anyone saw Animal Kingdom winning the Kentucky Derby, yet it happened.
Stay focused, but don’t be afraid to deviate a little from the safe path. You might just find the best opportunity and true happiness where you’d least expect it.
“The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged” – Ancient Roman classical Poet and Author of Metamorphoses, 43 BC-17
As always, thanks for reading!