I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. But before I wanted to be a doctor, I wanted to play basketball at UNC. My family put that idea in my head from Day 1. I came home from the hospital wearing Tarheel Blue. At 4, I could hum the fight song. At 6, I was talking stats and player potential with grown men at restaurants.
My Mom was a college basketball and volleyball player, so she took to becoming my coach. I should note, my Mom was also in the military. By coach, I mean drill sergeant. From the day I confessed my dream out loud, she had a basketball in my hand and drills for days. I would shoot from the time I got off the bus until I completed every exercise outlined for me the day before. I would lay in bed and shoot into the air to practice my form.
One day I got tired of that crap, and I quit.
Yeah, there’s no magical ending. To this day, I believe I could have been a great basketball player. I didn’t have the work ethic. I never fell in love with the practice it took to get there, and so my path took me toward a different destination.
As an idea person, I have fallen in love with a lot of destinations. Rarely the journey. The journey is overwhelming. It’s a huge to-do list and a never-ending what-if, wondering if you’re doing the right thing to get wherever you think you’re going. That’s one of the hardest parts about starting a company - figuring out what the right thing is to spend your time on.
Now add a pandemic.
Suddenly it feels like I’m riding a stationary bike; I’m doing a lot of work to go nowhere. Some days, I love it. On others, I feel lost. I’m staring at this big white abyss, and I have no idea what’s coming next.
But on the first of this month, when I wrote my monthly reflection letter (more on that here if you want to write one in May), I wrote down, “When I am stuck, I’ll remember there are no rules.”
There are no rules. No rules about how you’re supposed to feel, what you’re supposed to do, or how to do it. Anyone who pretends there are is a liar and a fool. Our lives and the future are entirely unpredictable.
That is not a doomsday directive. Not knowing what’s next isn’t the end of the world. It’s freedom. It’s giving us space to let the journey evolve and change. To allow ourselves to take a different route to an even better destination when everything is said and done.
I’ve talked to a lot of people like you who are feeling shaken up by how their journey at work has changed now that hiring freezes, layoffs, and furloughs are a reality. Those who were once 100% recruiting are transitioning from recruiters to culture leaders. Lucky for them, culture is changing as rapidly as the future of work. I wrote about a few ways companies are doing it well this week.
Remember, there are no rules. It’s ok to rest and it’s ok to dream. Do what you need when you need it. I had to tell myself that and get a call from a friend to remind me, too. I can make that call to you next if you need a pep talk.