Early in my career I was hired to film the aftermath of a devastating tornado that ripped through a broad section of Kansas. While I was there with my crew, we became friends with a farmer who also owned a crop dusting business, and he let us use his plane to shoot the storm damage from the air. I remarked to the pilot about how farmers plant their fields in such straight lines. If you’ve ever flown over the Midwest you know what I mean. Rows and rows of perfectly straight, geometric lines.
The farmer replied that it was simple – when he plants, he looks at the end of the row – the horizon. He said if he looked down at the actual row, he’d wander all over the place, but by keeping his eye on the horizon line, he’s able to keep his bearings and sense of direction.
Too often when we get a job, we focus on that particular job to the exclusion of everything else. We take our eyes off the horizon line – our career – and look down at the particular job. As a result, we lose track of how that job fits into our overall career, and we start wondering off course. Before long, we’ve lost our bearings and eventually lose touch with our original goal.
Doing a specific job well is important, but not to the exclusion of your career. This week, take some time and reflect on past jobs – and maybe your current job – that may have taken your eyes off your original goal. How far off-course are you? What will it take to get back on track?
And the next time you get a job, consider it in light of your overall career goals. Make sure it fits, and keep it in that perspective. Make adjustments if necessary, and occasionally you might need to actually turn something down. It will be painful in the short term, but far better over the long haul. If your next job isn’t helping you achieve your overall career goal, then it’s distracting you from where you need to be right now.
Keep your eye on the horizon.