Life rarely moves in a straight line. It moves unforgivingly through peaks and valleys, highs and lows.
Your career is no different.
When I first started my career in technology, at a fairly young age, I had a pretty clear picture of what I wanted my career trajectory to look like. I wanted a straight line, moving in linear fashion, up and to the right. Things like income level, job security, and public perception from family and friends all made an appearance on that line. Any derailment from that was viewed as a failure in my mind.
I feared adversity.
But as I've reflected on my short career, and the few success I've had along the way, those successes are the things that I'm least proud of.
Instead, it's the things like being fired from my first job, a company I helped create. Playing a role in the rise and subsequent fall of a heavily-funded startup. Launching a side project (not Stride) that limped along until it was sold for next to nothing. All of these were failures, often as the direct result of my performance. Yet, these are the things I'm most proud of. Not the outcome, obviously, but the evolution that took place within myself.
In each of these situations, I grew. My skin became thicker. My ability to adapt grew larger. My entire mindset in facing challenges shifted. All of the many derailments from my proverbial line made me a better entrepreneur, a better person.
Today, I seek adversity. The checkmarks that I held in such high esteem have become less important.
It's easy to become complacent. It's even easier to accept yourself in your current state. You can become a millionaire, move up the career ladder, look great in the minds of friends and family, but the feeling of overcoming adversity has no parallel.