An airplane spends most of its time in flight off course. The pilot has to make course corrections continuously. Without making the necessary adjustments, the pilot and the plane would not reach their desired destination. An airplane moves fast and requires you to work the controls actively.
A train is different. It never needs to make any adjustments to its course. The tracks go from point A to point B, with no deviations. The train conductor never has to course correct. As long as the train moves forward unobstructed, it will eventually reach its destination.
The Problem with Tracks
As long as the tracks and train are sound, there aren’t many issues with which to concern yourself. You continue to move forward, on track, and on time. However, on the long journey to success, there are always problems and difficulties.
The problem you run into with train tracks is obstructions. If something is blocking the lanes, you are delayed at best and stuck for a long time at worst. If the lines are old and worn out, they may be incapable of delivering you to the end of the line. What used to work is no longer up to the task.
If you believe that the result you want is a straight path, unencumbered by obstacles of all sorts, you are mistaken. If you think that the single-vehicle (or strategy or tactics) you have chosen guarantees the outcome you want, you will often be disappointed by how little this is true. Someone else’s path may look to you like a fast-moving train, but it isn’t. It’s probably more like an airplane.
The Benefit of an Airplane
An airplane moves fast, covering more ground with higher velocity than any other form of transportation. But because it is flying through the air, it is continuously buffeted by the wind. It is always being knocked off course. Worse still, much of the time its progress is being suspended by a headwind, using more fuel and taking more time to progress. An airplane also has to avoid bad weather by altering its course.
The benefit of an airplane is that it can continue to move forward. A strong headwind can slow progress, and winds coming from other directions can knock it off course, but in either case, the plane still keeps moving towards its destination. No matter how circuitous its path, and no matter how long it takes, you can adjust until you arrive at your stopping place.
How Success Works
You may want success to model the train. You want a straight path that requires very little of you. You want certainty that you will achieve your goal if you keep doing the same thing long enough. If this is true, the obstacles and areas where the tracks are no longer fit for travel will discourage you. It will take you a lot longer to reach your goals if you believe there is a single track that will deliver you there.
Success is more like an airplane. You are continually going to be pushed off course by external forces, mistakes, missteps, and maybe your poor sense of direction. You will sometimes face difficult challenges that slow you down and some that require you to change course altogether. Reaching your goal requires that you make adjustments, course correct, and sometimes even change your destination as you progress.
Getting There, Eventually
The path you may have chosen may not be the right path to get you to your goal, even if it was the path that other people have taken. You may need to find a different route.
When you know your outcome, you increase your chances of achieving it by persisting in moving forward, regardless off the obstacles, and regardless of the events that slow your progress. You also increase the likelihood of achieving your goals when you are willing to change your course and make adjustments. Whatever the case, keep going until you get there.
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Filed under: Success