Well. Suffice it to say the best of the best children’s literature is strewn with thoughtful thoughts and lessons without clear answers. The Cheshire Cat is one. The Cheshire Cat (the smartass who could disappear after being a smartass) once again reminded me about how insightful Alice in Wonderland can be (if you get past some of the nuttiness).
“Only a few find the way, some don’t recognize it when they do – some… don’t ever want to.”
Finding your way.
Whew. Probably something we all want. And I mean this in personal Life & in business. Now. We talk about this a lot … like a shitload of a lot, but truthfully very few truly find “the way.” That doesn’t stop us from proclaiming we have, or we are on our way (our journey) or even suggest the search for finding the way is actually finding the way, but the grander point the cat is making is many of us probably actually do … but don’t recognize it (for whatever reason).
In fact. I was tempted to use “most of us” rather than ‘many of us’ in that last sentence.
Finding the way is tough. Not because we don’t have goals and objectives and even dreams. Mostly because things in life are rarely black or white. Not only is the way winding but every frickin’ day is a winding road (to quote Sheryl Crow). Many of us know there is ‘something better’ out there but finding THE way to that betterness is difficult. Because winding ways don’t permit you the luxury to see that far ahead. And certainly doesn’t allow you to see the horizon. And that is where I believe the Cheshire cat really knew his shit.
Some ‘don’t ever want to’ for fear of the unknown.
Hey. Despite all the things that I have done myself that may seem risky I can develop as long a list, if not longer, of things I didn’t do — for whatever reason (some good, some bad). It reminds me of something a 20something wrote this:
Sometimes I think about why there aren’t more people running, sprinting towards greatness. Why there aren’t more people continually evolving into something better, stronger, and happier. I wonder this a lot as I read or listen to stories about miserable jobs and unsatisfying home lives and dreams that have been left to decompose. And, I think I’m starting to understand why some people just stay, as they are, and stop aspiring for betterment. I think I get it. I think I see why it’s not a matter of capability, but rather a matter of personal choice.
Look. Some people start hurling themselves down drastically different paths but most people just aren’t that hasty. In fact, as the Cheshire cat suggests, many people just don’t want to. Because hurling yourself can be scary. And sprinting towards greatness would be easy if “the way” was a straight track instead of a winding way.
So what we do is try and make ourselves comfortable. Lists. Milestones. Quarterly goals. We convince ourselves these are way stations on our way to getting somewhere. They are not. they are simply parking benches along some path someone else has built where they suggest you sit and rest and think about how you’ve attained something (but, if you look closely, you’re not really sure it was something you wanted to attain in the first place).
Anyway. I am not suggesting anyone hurl themselves anywhere because of the Cheshire cat. And I am also not suggesting you should be incredibly frustrated if you don’t find the way. Maybe the ones who do should just feel very fortunate and the rest of us should restlessly pursue the way. However. I would say everyone should be a little reflective of the whole ‘parking benches/milestones’ thing I mentioned. It becomes incredibly easy to use deadlines as some tangible proof of progress. This is a mistake. More often than not that is simply, in Farnam Street words, speed versus velocity. You may not know if you are on your way somewhere or not but you should always be sure you have some velocity, not just some speed.
Alice: would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here.
Cheshire cat: that depends a good deal on where you want to go,
Alice: I don’t much care.
Cheshire cat: then it doesn’t matter which way to go.
Alice: so long as I get somewhere.
Cheshire cat: oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk for enough.”
Objectives strategies and goals. Okay. Life is a little different. Seek happiness, enough wealth to not have to constantly worry and maybe love.
Same stuff just different environments.
I just wrote another post about being restless. And I would imagine that sometimes it can be ‘purposeless’ (or directionless) restlessness. And the cat (at least in my own non-literature expert musings) suggests that even if you don’t have an objective, or a direction, or a purpose being restless will get you somewhere someday. In other words, moving increases the likelihood you will get somewhere rather than standing still or being stagnant.
Okay. Simple when you think about it that way, huh? Look, as noted earlier, you may not find your way in your roaming restlessness. And you may actually fall in love with just being restless. But you may find yourself overwhelmingly happy wherever you end up (even though you may not have been specifically aiming there). Now. Some business people reading this may think “this guy is nuts.” And they may be right. But I would argue most business leaders, the good ones, may not be able to specifically articulate where they want to go but they have a general sense of the scenario they envision their business in that would equate success. It not a specific destination. Its not a specific road or way. Its just a specific thought. In that definition restlessness is significantly more productive than investing gobs of energy & time trying to make that thought into some road map to some destination.
P.S. — that logic works in Life too.
Ok. I guess the point of this (beyond the fact I got to use two Cheshire cat quotes) is that sometimes finding your way isn’t necessarily a specific ‘way.’
Or maybe even a well defined way.
Or even the ‘way’ you were thinking was the one you wanted.
But. If you keep going, you are more likely to find ‘the way’ then if you become frozen worrying or thinking about which road to take.