Don’t fret about those career mis-steps, writes Ian Ray – you might’ve been on the perfect pathway all along.
Have you ever made the realisation you should be doing something else with your life?
It might be an instant thunderclap of revelation, or that slow, grinding dissatisfaction with your job. Either way, it’s sometimes difficult to acknowledge we’ve taken a wrong turn in our careers, and harder still to act on those feelings.
Pegasus has quite a few people who took the plunge. We’ve got one team member who left behind life as a city trader, another who sashayed away from his modelling career, and a landbound former naval officer. We’ve also got former hacks, a stand-up comic, sometime rock stars and – until very recently – a clown academy graduate.
The point I’m making is that good creatives know when to move on, despite a very human instinct to make good on our investment and tough it out. And good creatives also know none of this experience is ever wasted; however fruitless it all seemed at the time, being exposed to dozens of different experiences can give us huge long-term advantages.
It’s an argument clearly articulated over 339 pages in David Epstein’s book Range, which I finally got around to starting in lockdown. In methodically taking apart your parents’ advice to pick something and stick with it, the book is a celebration of the late bloomer’s tendency to succeed – when they do eventually find something that fits.
The book also makes a point that anyone who’s been in a brainstorm already knows; it’s often the fresh perspective that wins the day. That unexpected analogy, or that parallel that anyone too close to their subject matter might’ve missed. This is where those restless types with a headful of multiple perspectives really come into their own.
Because creative development thrives when people go digging around in the big jumble sale of their own knowledge and experience, rather than proceeding to the same orderly shelf as last time. And truly exciting creative sessions crackle with associative intelligence, as jumps and connections are made between contexts and sectors – just as those tiny electrical impulses dart and leap across our brains.
So how do we foster this kind of environment and create better work? For me, this isn’t about targeting people with rollercoaster CVs in our hiring process (we also need plenty of people who’ve been lucky enough to land on something they love for longer).
But we can at least be open-minded to a range of experience, and broader frames of reference that challenge our expectations. You never know when that clown academy training could come in handy, after all.
If it’s time for you to do something else with your life, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org