By Charly Jaffe, Women Leaders for the World graduate, 2017
There are endless routes up the mountain of success. At times, the biggest thing blocking our ascent is not the overwhelming obstacles on our path, but the belief that there is only one way up. Dreaming up wild and unexpected paths to our goals can open doorways we’d never seen, and unwanted landslides can provide the paths beyond our imagination. This is particularly important for the passionate change-makers amongst us; the bigger and hairier our goal, the more no’s we are bound to face. Success does not come from the smooth path, but the ability to expand our horizons and adapt.
My greatest leaps forward have often started with a setback. While I had been a high-achieving Google strategist, a combination of health crises and a well-timed job rejection drove me to leave the company, backpack through southeast Asia and eventually co-run an Australian yoga school. I wasn’t sure where this would take me, and many thought me foolish for sacrificing a career in Silicon Valley, but less than two years later this ‘detour’ was the very reason someone from my dream department asked me to come to join their team. While I ended up deciding to pursue a masters degree at Columbia University instead, both of these exciting opportunities were born from the heartbreak of unexpectedly having to leave my life and organization in Australia behind with a change in visa laws. Our dreams have paths we can’t begin to fathom, and the best way to support them is by embracing the possibilities.
Sometimes the setbacks launch us to places beyond our imagination, other times they take us exactly where we wanted to be. As the owner of a small ice juicee company, my father had his world turned upside down the day a change in school lunch regulations took his products off the menu – erasing the majority of his business in an instant. This could have been the end. But he insisted on being open to the possibilities, and instead it was the beginning. The desperation of the situation drove him to innovate a new, healthier product, which not only stayed on the lunch menus but dominated the entire industry – becoming the #1 frozen novelty product in the United States.
In order to create a change that we’ve never seen, we must do things we’ve never done. One of our greatest tools on this journey is a mindset embracing possibilities, especially in the face of challenge and uncertainty. My father and I dug deep into the process of building a mind for happiness and success in our upcoming book, Turning Crisis Into Success: A serial entrepreneur’s lessons on overcoming challenges while keeping your sh*t together. If you’d like to learn more about this topic and book, you can visit our website and pre-order your copy here; we so appreciate your support and would love any feedback you have to share!