When Life Sets Sail Without You (it's ok...)
It was 8 years and 5 months ago...
I stood in port as my ship, the USS Abraham Lincoln, set sail for a deployment. Her turn to be the vanguard of our protection. My shipmates' turn to stand the watch. Our turn to serve our country.
Except, I wasn't there; I would not make it on that deployment - or any other, as it turns out.
Six days prior I was handed orders to detach from the ship for medical reasons. I put in for temporary shore duty so I could meet the Lincoln underway when I was ready. That request was denied all the way up to the Executive Officer - considering it "elective" treatment. My orthopedic surgeon thought otherwise. So there I was, waiting for surgery and to begin treatment I needed, but seeing my ship, my reactor plant, my shipmates, my friends headed overseas without me.
So what's the point?
The point is that the last 5 years of my Naval career, and the entirety of my future career goals based on that, seemed to be washing away. This wasn't the plan!
Adding to the uncertainty I was now facing, I was directly confronted by many of my shipmates thinking I did this on purpose, to get out of deployment. That was the real punch in the gut.
This happens to ALL of us. It's okay. External forces align to ruin our plans. Now we can't do what we promised the world we would. It's still okay. Now some people are going to look at our position in the situation and think poorly of us.
- Those people don't matter. Instead, connect with those who share some bit of understanding.
- The landscape has changed, permanently, so modify your plans, or pick a new path.
Sure sounds easy - because it is - but reliant upon self-confidence. I wish I could tell you I just shifted gears and charged ahead in a new direction. I didn't. I spent months staring at the empty pier and open water. I was angry, disappointed and depressed. Longer than I should have been, but I slowly got re-oriented and began laying out a new plan. I finished my bachelors, picked up a certification, did some cool things with a weapons program, and started my MBA before the Navy finally retired me.
If you happen to click on my profile (or have followed me over from LinkedIn) you may observe that it all worked out. It damn sure didn't feel like that 8 years ago! Hopefully you can take this away from my story:
- The world is always changing, and some days it will look nothing like what you've planned for.
- Don't beat yourself up for not keeping to your word if it's no longer possible.
- Pick a new heading and go for it.
Give the horizon a wink and a wave, turn around, step off the pier, and jump into your new adventure. * Tweet this*
Maybe you're having a life event, maybe your company is "right"-sizing, maybe you've found yourself in way over your head... As a Leader, how do YOU get yourself back on track? Leave a comment and give us all a tip. Thanks!