“Oh the Places You will Go - The Waiting Place” – taking control of your journey
Updated: Apr 25
Some of you would have read the children’s book “Oh the Places You will Go” by Dr Seuss. It is a story about a young boy on a journey – he has the freedom to choose his path and every path he takes has its successes and defeats.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
And traveling through his journey he reaches the “The Waiting Place” – a place where one waits for something to happen. This is the area of inaction and inactivity
…for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.
NO! That’s not for you!
The Waiting Place in our lives
The dilemma faced by Dr Seuss’s young hero is similar to what most of us face in our lives. In our journey of life and in our career, we are often stranded in the ‘Waiting place’, where we would let things happen to us rather than we making things happen. The wait at our Waiting Place often lasts as long as our inactivity continues.
Why are we comfortable in our Waiting Place?
Even when we know the waiting place is not comfortable, we continue to be in the same place. We complain about our salary, we complain about the lack of growth in our career, we complain about our work environment – but do nothing about it.
Sociologists have recorded umpteen number of cases where despite severe domestic violence and abuses, the partners continue to live in the abusive relationship. This is because of the sense of helplessness and being afraid of facing a new situation.
Complacency in our careers: Even in our careers, we know that we are unhappy and feel that the growth is stagnant. Yet some of us are reluctant to take up new opportunities in a different organization or even in a different country. We reach the ‘comfort level’ in our jobs and tend to continue to accept the ‘inadequacies’ of the job and feel comfortable to complain about it but do nothing to change the situation. Our satisfaction is achieved by complaining and bitching about the job.
Every one of us have many opportunities in front of us, just like the young boy in the book. When the boy starts his journey, he is told..
“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
We are in charge of our lives and our careers. The decisions and the actions we take today shape our future. As Steven Covey talks in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” a successful farmer reaps the benefit of his farm only when he spends time in preparing the farm, tilling it, removing the weeds, adding nutrients and water regularly, and harvesting it in time. It is the rule of Nature that the process of success has to follow a pattern. Nothing happens by miracle. The harvest just doesn’t turn up at the doorstep one fine day!!
Is it possible for a farmer to relax and laze around during the planting season, procrastinate during the time when the plants have to be watered, tended and weeded, and then expect a bumper crop at the end of the season? The Laws of Nature does not work like that.
When we are in our student lives, we know the date of the exams, the topics that the examination covers and what is required to be studied. Very few of us take proactive step and prepare well for the examination as well as the learning of the subjects. For the majority it is cramming of the papers a few weeks or even a few days before the exam. And when the results come out and we get lower grades, we tend to blame external factors including the quality of the teachers, the examination papers, the whole system, etc. We tend to dilute the fact that we did not spend time studying, period.
Similarly, in our career too we spend time on issues that are not pertinent to improving our jobs – office gossips, casual talk, internet browsing, chatting etc. Very few people spend the time in learning and improving the skills at the office. Still fewer volunteer to be on special projects which would give them exposure to a wider skill. Many of us do not want to take any extra initiatives at the workplace and yet want the Management to recognize us for promotions and bonuses. The quality of the work we do is often found wanting, and no efforts are made to correct the situation and we complain that Management is biased!
This is the ‘Waiting Place’ Dr Seuss talks about. A place in our lives, where the inertia comes to a stop and we, often just wait and watch. A bit of action from our side to move out of this comfort zone, would mean that we would be way ahead of others.
How to move out of our “Waiting Place”
Take Charge: Our lives are in our hands; it is not controlled by anyone. Let’s avoid blaming the Government, our bosses, our friends or anyone for the situation we are in. We are in the situation because that is what we worked for. Even if the situation is due to adverse conditions beyond our control, we still have the ability to get out of the rut. Merely blaming and drowning ourselves in self-pity will only increase our agony but does nothing to help us in changing the situation. To quote the poet William Ernest Henley
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Be Proactive: Let us seize the day. Carpe diem. We should work on every opportunity that comes our way. Procrastination is a bad habit that we should work on improving. Let’s use every opportunity to learn and grow.
Let us work on implement every resolution that we are going to make for the New Year. Whether it is losing weight or learning a new language, let’s have a measurable action plan to implement them.
Be Optimistic: “When everything fails, there is still tomorrow”. Whatever happens, we know that tomorrow will be different. All the religions and spirituality talk about hope and looking for a brighter tomorrow. But the brighter tomorrow can be different only when we are actively involved in changing the current situation. There has to be efforts on our side to invest in ourselves to make the tomorrow different.
We are Blessed: If we are alive, we are blessed. Whatever financial, physical and social difficulties we may be facing, if only we focus on the fact that we are still breathing should make the difference. Our mind can help us in evolving ourselves as a superhuman with proper training and learning of skills. All this is possible only when the breath of life is passing through our nostrils. Let’s count our blessings that we are alive today and have an opportunity to make a difference in our lives as well as in others.
You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.