Home > Advice, Personal > Toddlers, a Bus Stop and Life — Why Horizontal Growth is not Always a Bad Thing

Toddlers, a Bus Stop and Life — Why Horizontal Growth is not Always a Bad Thing

February 17, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Just shy of two years ago while sitting at a bus stop in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California, my mother crudely drew on a napkin the growth pattern of toddlers. “Typically when a toddler is getting ready to make a big emotional jump,” she explained in the cold morning fog, “they regress before taking a big step forward.” I nodded as I waved off the passing bus and continued to listen. “This may be why right now you feel you are regressing in your career,” she continued. “It may just be a sign you are getting ready to take a giant leap forward. Just be patient and pray.” True to her motherly instincts three weeks later I landed a speaking gig that effectively launched my freelancing career.

Seriously how do moms do this?

In today’s world there is constant social pressure to always be moving upward. New jobs aren’t supposed to be steps back and second homes aren’t supposed to be smaller. And while in some areas forward momentum is vital, a majority of the time regressing can lead to a big step forward.

But what about moving horizontally? These past several months I have been having hundreds of high-level conversations with CEOs, editors, publishers, freelancers and businessman. Each conversation has the potential to catapult me forward, but many times they leave me stagnant in my career. Or better yet, moving horizontally as a good friend and mentor said.

This got me thinking: Is moving horizontally really a bad thing? With every conversation I gain more experience, learn how to articulate myself and identify the keywords that resonate with different professionals. I’m smarter, quicker and see the industry through a clearer lens. With each conversation I’m finding myself closer and closer to my ultimate goal and, while it might not come for a while, I’m ready to not only continue to grow horizontally, but regress a bit when the time feels right. Of course I’ll have to consult with my mother on that one.

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Categories: Advice, Personal
  1. Susan
    February 17, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    How do moms do this? We are patient and we pray.

  2. Jo
    March 1, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    I think I needed to read this.

    After getting laid off, I certainly feel like I’ll never have the career that I did have. But really, who peaks at 24?

    Thanks Tim.

  3. Tim Shisler
    March 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Glad I was able to help, Jo. Sorry to hear about your layoff, though I think you’re right that not many peak at 24.

    I once heard a great quote from my anthropology teacher that went something along the lines of, “the people who are great at 20 are usually born great. The rest become great later in their life around 50ish. These are the people who became great throughout their life.”

    Since I missed the born great bus I’m hoping I’ll fall into the second category.

    Good luck with everything and thanks for reading.

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