How To Move Forward When Life Goes Sideways (Part 2)

I was not a good student growing up, especially once I entered high school. I struggled to see the connection between what I was being taught and my life. I wasn’t even considering that this information could be valuable at a later date.

For example, I really didn’t do well in math. I couldn’t understand why I had to learn things like algebra and functions and equations. It was painful sitting in those classes which is why I did, as little as possible.

As I said, I struggled to make a connection between what I was suppose to learn and why it was so important to learn it.

Take geometry for example.

One of the few lessons I remember was that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” That might be well and good in geometry but in real life it just isn’t true.

Let me explain.

As much as we my plan, learn, prepare and execute the things we want to do in our lives, life usually doesn’t work out the way we think it will…it just doesn’t.

In my last post I shared a situation that turned my world upside down…something I didn’t see coming…and something that took time to recover from. You can read it here.

But that’s life isn’t it?

Here’s the problem as I see it.

In life, we want things to be “up and to the right”, in other words, we want things to improve in a smooth trajectory…on a graph it would be a straight line from the bottom left to the upper right.

The problem is, life doesn’t work that way…not usually.

How do I know? Here’s what I’ve come to believe; almost nothing of significance happens without a struggle, without challenges and even failures or setbacks along the way.

Consider the following…

  • raising children
  • a loving marriage relationship
  • starting a business
  • finishing a school year
  • completing a degree
  • finishing a work project on time
  • moving up the corporate ladder
  • leading an organization
  • running a capital campaign
  • running a marathon
  • learning a new skill
  • saving for a home or retirement (remember 2008?)
  • developing a strong friendship

Success, however you define it, is never a straight line. Up and to the right doesn’t exist.

“Running a Company is Like Staring Into the Abyss and Eating Glass” Elon Musk

Before we opened our cafe two years ago, I tried to learn as much as possible. One of the first books I read was “The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster” by Darren Hardy. The title alone gives you a clue that running a business is anything but a smooth ride. I love roller coasters but…

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points Is Not a Straight Line But a Zig Zag

I love the Old Testament story of when the Israelites are finally released from slavery in Egypt and lead by Moses toward their Promised Land. (If you watched “The 10 Commandments” featuring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, then you get the gist of the story).

The promise of a land for the Jewish people was made hundreds of years before (see Genesis 12 & 15) and now after 400 years oppression by the Egyptians they were free to enjoy the promise fulfilled.

In this story then, Egypt is Point A and the promised land is Point B.

From Goshen in Egypt (Point A) to Canaan (Point B) was about a 10-day journey. In fact there was a clear road to get there, known as the “Way of the (Mediterranean) Sea” or the “Way of the Philistines” (remember David & Goliath) because it passed through Philistine territory.

10 days! The Jewish people were 10 days from settling into their new home. They were that close.

But for some reason God took them in the opposite direction.

“When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road to the Philistines though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them around the desert, south toward the Red Sea.” Exodus 13:17-18

Whatever God’s reasons, the straight way, the shortest way, was not the best way. The straight line was more dangerous. God could see that, even if the people could not.

That’s what life is like isn’t it?

I don’t understand it, but from my own experience, I know that it’s during the zig zags of life that we tend to learn, grow, change get stronger, get more vulnerable, get smarter and trust more. At least those things can happen if we allow them to.

You see, I knew I was wasting time on geometry. The shortest distance between two points is not a straight line…at least not in life.

What do you think?

How have you experienced zig zags instead of up and to the right in your life? What did you learn?

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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