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Mini-Point: The Shifting Sands of Life and Work January 12, 2010

Posted by Lisa in Assessments, Mini-Point.
Tags: , , ,

Good article reflecting on lessons learned traveling across the Sahara, and how they can apply to work and life.

We live and work in a mountain-climbing culture.

We want to see the peak, map out a route, and follow it to the top-our metaphors for goal-setting and goal-getting our way through our lives and careers.

Real life, however, often defies this approach. That’s because most of our experiences actually resemble a desert. We get lost or stuck, and even chase the occasional mirage. From raising kids to plotting our careers, we find few clear routes or identifiable peaks.

From Lessons Learned in the Desert by Steve Donahue.



1. thomas mann - January 12, 2010

The idea of goal setting/getting has always eluded me. Maybe because my career path in working at several companies was shaped by things within these companies that were beyond my control. My decision points were based upon opportunities, or the need for survival; not goals. Nothing fancy here. Lessons learned from the desert seems to reinforce this; instead of clear goals in most cases, the lessons are about how to respond to the environment. Much as I have. Maybe I’m goal-adverse. Or goal-challenged. But there must be a point where emphasis in achieving goals would cause a person to miss opportunities, possibly career-saving ones, because chasing an opportunity may cause a person to miss a goal. We can all think of crucial discoveries that were made by following a dream instead of a goal. Goal-setting may be good for some people or for certain situations. But I think emphasizing goals can be dangerous.

2. Lisa - January 13, 2010

Did you just channel my own thoughts? 🙂

My life has been the same, although I’ve used the word “serendipity” to describe my pursuing different opportunities, but wonder if I haven’t always felt a little lacking that I didn’t have “clear goals in life.” There’s a stigma there, that if One Doesn’t Have Clear Goals, One Will Amount To Nothing In Life.

So then what the hell is a “goal”? Have we psyched ourselves out by too narrowly defining what a “goal” is? I can think of three – “I want to be a doctor when I grow up.” “I want to be an executive when I grow up,” and “I need to make up a 5-year plan for my next interview.”


I’ve never felt the first two, and always dread the third.

And that’s the reason I’m writing this blog. I feel like my focus is too narrow right now and I’m missing opportunities. The desert lessons learned seems great ways to let serendipity do its thing.

Thanks for the great comment,

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