Only a few find the way, some don’t recognize it when they do – some… don’t ever want to.”

Cheshire Cat


Finding your way is most likely one of the most desired, and elusive, things in business and life. 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 Cheshire Cat makes is many of us probably actually do, but don’t recognize it (for whatever reason).

Uhm. 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 and the outlines of what we really “want” are often a bit vague. What this means is 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 mostly because ‘winding’ don’t permit you the luxury to see that far ahead, certainty is situational and the horizon often is blocked by a forest or hill.

Which leads me to where I believe the Cheshire cat really knew his shit.

Some ‘don’t ever want to’ for fear of the unknown. On a personal note, despite all the things that I have done that may appear 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:

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 many people just don’t want to because hurling yourself can be scary. 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 or if it is even representative of progress you truly value).

Anyway. I am not suggesting anyone hurl themselves anywhere. 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 A 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.

Which leads me to pursuing ‘the way.’

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.”

I will admit I am not a linear “from here to there” type of person excepting if it eliminates something that could get in the way of restlessness. For example, I would gladly pay extra for a bullet train to get me from one city to the next so I could wander more in a destination. I would gladly do a short sprint building a ‘good enough’ website so I could focus resources on something else. I believe in complexity theory these may be fractals (linear moments linking some things within multidimensional complex systems). I don’t really care about the overall direction as long as I get somewhere and the linear shit is simply a means to an end. I would imagine this restlessness can sometimes be ‘purposeless’ (or directionless) restlessness. This 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 (this could be called defining a Vision). It not a specific destination. It’s not a specific road or way. It’s 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.

  • *** note: that logic works in Life too.

Ok. I guess the point of this 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. Ponder.

Written by Bruce