Almost 25 years ago, I found myself sitting on a beach on the east coast of Ireland. I was with my good friend Rick who I studied together with at the University. We both had more or less quit our ‘first real’ jobs in Washington D.C. and decided to to take our savings and hit the road in Europe. Ireland was our first stop.

After consuming a decent portion of a bottle of Paddy’s Irish whisky we started to talk about jobs and the future. Rick studied English and Drama so he always had a flare for describing things well (in contrast to my Architect/Engineering view of the world).

Rick had a metaphor for jobs and purpose in life that has really stuck with me through the years.

The way I look at things it is kinda like we are sitting on this island. This island is nice but maybe it is too small or there are no interesting people and we have an itch to check out another place.

When we look on the horizon we see a series of other islands, some closer with more detail, others farther aware and are just distant specks. You are not really sure how far these islands are but they look pretty nice and we are in decent shape (whisky excluded).

After some thinking we target an island and start swimming towards it. Sometimes the island is farther than we thought and we have to exert ourselves or get some assistance. Often when you finally get to an island you realise this wasn’t at all what you wanted and you immediately want to leave.

It is at this point that we look to the horizon to what other islands are out there. When we are ready for it we start the process again.

What do you see on your horizon Chris?

It was a good question and it took me some time and didn’t really have an immediate answer, but then I swam to an island.

I have swum to many islands since, and enjoyed and learned something valuable from all of them. Some islands looked incredible from a distance with palm trees and attractive people but turned out to be plastic trees and shallow inhabitants.

I have also swum very far to reach certain islands (different countries). In these cases, I swam blindly out into the water with an image of an island in my mind. I knew this image was probably not exact, but I went anyway. These turned out to be the most interesting islands.

I have reached a point in my life when I no longer expect an island to be perfect. Instead, I have flipped things around and plan to find a good island and focus on planting the trees, and inviting the persons I want to inhabit the island with me – a network. Plus my wife and dog. 

Part of this process is for me to take an honest look at what I am good at and what gives me energy and start there. This video is a first step in that direction.

Give it a look and if you like what you see give me a shout  – even just to talk.

You can get touch with me on twitter, Linkedin or email.