“Greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible. Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one’s sights and pushing toward the horizon.”
― Daniel H. Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Highway number 9 was the place that captured my imagination and instilled in me a sense of adventure and “wanderlust”. Fifty years ago I arrived in Canada by boat from England. Highway 9 was my path to a new, often times confusing yet exciting new world.
It held the promise of a path towards a magnificent uncharted future. It took me to school, connected me with friends, it provided me with safe passage while I challenged myself with youthful experimentation, learning and life lessons. Some lessons were painful reminders that life can be unpredictable and tragic. Mostly the lessons were about possibility, challenge and achievement.
There were no limits to the different directions the highway could take you. The only limits were placed by external expectations, self doubt, a need for safety that was always accompanied by limited vision. These were mostly the domain of adults. For us kids the highway was only a pathway to freedom and adventure.
The joy and the pain were gifts from that road and the lessons learned have lasted a lifetime. Why has my memory taken me back to Highway Number 9? Perhaps it’s the “50” year anniversary of my arrival in Canada. A giant leap of faith made by my parents so long ago that altered the course of all of our lives.
The metaphor of Highway 9 speaks volumes about the human need for limitless vision and creative space. The promise of a future that is structured loosely but unscripted. Aren’t these the attributes that guide us towards positive and fertile problem solving? Can the concept of a Highway number 9 be a good one for our workplaces? For how we choose to lead? For how we lead ourselves in the creating of our own businesses?
In a review of my own career, I can clearly see when my motivation and creativity was squashed. It was most often when I worked in a “limiting” quarter by quarter structure. While I was able to maneuver in this environment for a short time, eventually I could feel myself shrink into self doubt, stress and anxiety. It wasn’t the right fit for me.
Stress, anxiety and depression are issues that plague our 21st century knowledge based workplace. The vision of how we work and what motivates us towards exceptional input seems to me to be in conflict with the quarter by quarter stock taking model of business. This has always been my hunch and until recently it was only a hunch.
Highway number 9 was the symbol of my need for freedom to choose and create in a way that fed me. My path wasn’t always a direct one, my choices not always popular with parents or peers but if I allowed myself the freedom to be true to me, they it always resulted in a positive outcome or creative solution.
If that road could talk perhaps it would say “ take me on your journey to adventure, to your future but create your own unique map along the way.”
I share this video of Dan Pink for all of you who have a hunch that creativity is being stifled by the current focus on short term goals and compensation that is only focused on dollars and cents. Hope it helps to validate your hunches!
May you be open to the new, to the painful and to the promise of your own creativity and uniqueness. Always stay true to yourself. “