While growing up in a textile mill village in North Carolina in the 60’s and 70’s, which had a major Southern Railway line going through the neighborhood, I was fascinated by trains. The overwhelming majority of traffic along that line was freight service linking the Carolinas’ industrial corridor to the rest of the country. Our mill house was a block from the mainline and because we did not have air conditioning, our windows were always open in the summer time. At night when a train would come through the sound of the wheels on the rails, the massive diesel engines churning, the blaring whistle warning the road crossings of the oncoming train, and the rattle of the couplings between the cars would literally fill my bedroom. If the wind was blowing west to east there were times you could even smell the diesel exhaust. Lying on my bed I could almost feel the vibration of the fast moving train as it headed north or south. Many people may have been bothered by such an assault on their senses at such a late hour, but for me it was music. To this day, when I hear these sounds, I am immediately transported to a simpler time and a memory of childhood.
Many writers over the years have used the analogy of the train and the rails for various literary purposes. In addition, hundreds or thousands of songs reference the romantic nature of the train and, for each person, the visual which is conjured is often very personal. For me, the train and its tracks not only represent a tie to my past but also a great metaphor for my life both professionally and personally.
By the very nature of its construction, an individual set of tracks only offers travel in two directions – forward or back. There is no left to right. There is no room for side-to-side adjustment. There is only forward and back. Yes. We can have a track that has curves and travels toward or away from all the points of the compass however, the direction of travel can still only be one of two directions as long as we stay connected to that particular set of rails. Therefore, where progress takes place, where our ultimate desired destination is reached, and where we end up at the end does not only depend on the direction we chose but also the very set or rails we select. If we choose to never take a side spur that connects us to another line and never merge onto a set of rails pointed better toward the place we are hoping to be; no matter how hard we go forward or backwards, no matter how much effort we put into the endeavor, and no matter how fast and efficiently we drive; we will never achieve our goal.
When we place more focus on our effort and less attention on what is more important – what is truly our most meaningful objectives and the right set of “rails” to take us there – we will not realize the level of personal or professional accomplishment we could have otherwise.
Accomplishment Culture© Reflection:
• In your current career or other endeavors do you see yourself on the right set of “rails” to take you where you want to be?
• Have you chosen a “track” that ultimately does not take you where you want to be?
• What “side spurs”, “switch tracks”, or completely new “rail lines” do you need to move to now to get there?
• What changes do you need to make to not be stuck with only forward and back options?
Accomplishment Culture© is a proprietary team and individual coaching program focused on creating “Purpose Driven Individuals and Teams” and is offered through Avery Executive Search and its parent company Avery Partners, Inc.
Marion Spears Karr, President of Avery Executive Search is the developer of Accomplishment Culture© and has been influenced by the works of such great thought leaders as Dr. Michael Maccoby, Dr. Elias Porter, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Greg McKeown, and many others in the creation of this program.