The truth is, there never was a plan. What there was instead was a path. A path of hard work and commitment to excellence, no matter the circumstances. A path of running toward problems instead of away from them. A path of unlocking the potential of others by collaborating with them to change the order of things. A path of recognizing opportunity when it knocks and having the courage to walk through the door.
You see, when we’re not fixated on our plans for the future, we’re free to focus our attention on the view from where we are. Instead of putting our heads down and staying in our ruts, we can actually see the people around us, the problems around us, the opportunities around us to make a positive contribution and change things for the better. We need to shift from the fretfulness of living on plan to the fulfillment of living on path.
We stay on path by adhering to a set of fully controllable character traits that prepare us from the inside out to seize the right opportunities at the right time with the requisite confidence, wisdom, and poise. The path to our full potential is a journey toward increased readiness for living the life we were made to live. Since I have been on this path, my life has been filled with accomplishment, yes, but also adventure, love, grace, joy, and positive contribution.
And yet . . . my life has also had its share of heartbreak, tragedy, pain, sorrow, and disappointment. For all of us, it is the nature of life to ebb and flow. The path doesn’t promise that times will always be good, decisions will always be easy, or outcomes will never disappoint us.
The reason I was truly fine when my campaign manager, Frank Sadler, stood on my doorstep dreading the conversation he knew we needed to have the morning after the New Hampshire primary was that my feet were still firmly planted on the path. Had I attached my self-worth to winning the nomination—not to mention the presidency—I would have been thrown off course. Instead, I stood up, dusted myself off, and put one foot in front of the other, moving forward again . . . always forward.
And in the same way that Frank eyed me with a hint of suspicion that morning, the people around you may raise an eyebrow or two when you begin to find your way. When you get this reaction, my advice is to keep on keepin’ on. Remind yourself that you can suffer some tough blows without getting completely knocked out—in fact, you can gain strength and wisdom, and even be blessed by those tough blows. You can stare down your struggles and emerge victorious. You can endure all the twists and turns in the road without becoming disoriented or distraught.
I’ve always loved the word vicissitudes—first, because it’s so fun to say. But more meaningfully because it captures the variations, fluctuations, and deviations that make our lives remarkable, our seasons memorable, and our years distinct one from the next.
Here’s my promise to you: You really can live in such a way that the vicissitudes of life won’t flatten you; in fact, they will fuel your journey.
You can be known for your steadiness.
You can be known for your sturdiness.
You can be known for bringing peace into any room.
You can exhibit kindness and graciousness and conviction and strength.
You can change everything for the better, simply by showing up.
You can find your way and never lose it again.
Excerpt taken from Find Your Way by Carly Fiorina. Published in April 2019.