In Frank Oz’s Wizard of Oz, the yellow brick road is a metaphor for the belief held commonly by immigrants that America’s streets were paved with gold.
Another interpretation of this tale says the yellow brick road symbolizes what’s known in Buddhism and Kabbalah as The Golden Path. The path represents the soul’s journey from egotism to enlightenment.
There is a modern interpretation of this I want to reach for: The yellow brick road is a career story.
Our careers start with egotism and ambition; a need. If we prevail and persevere we’ll reach enlightenment; abundance.
Recruiters help us believe the yellow brick road story. We drink up good recruitment marketing because it feeds the belief that the golden path awaits us and the streets — they are paved with gold. Your career story will be a walk in the park.
I stepped onto the yellow brick road of my career story when I left the corporate life to join a startup over seven years ago. I left a stable enterprise with thousands of employees and was employee number 12 at a technology company.
The road ahead was paved with gold, or so my dewy-eyed self believed.
And as I woke up to the technicolour of my new life it was quickly apparent to me the streets were not paved with gold.
I was the first HR person the founder hired. I was charged with building a HR department from the ground-up. A huge undertaking. The experience was mostly exhilarating and parts of it were awful. I grew so quickly that parts of me broke in the progress.
It was fast, furious, and then we ran out of funds and after almost two years’ there I was job hunting.
I dusted myself off and looked out for my yellow brick road again. Ambition, hope, and ego led me to believe my golden path would reveal itself.
So, I joined another small tech company. (This time it would be different.) More exhilaration. More painful, rapid growth. More awful parts. Not exactly a yellow brick road to nirvana.
After this experience I was committed to getting on the right yellow brick road. The streets are paved with gold – somewhere over the rainbow – I just had to get there.
Ego and ambition inspired me to write a list of the things I wanted to manifest in my #dreamjob. I wrote about things like retirement savings plans and how I wanted to feel in my #dreamjob, the important work I wanted to do.
So, I joined another small tech company. I had my #dreamjob wish list clutched closely to my heart and my ego whispered, this time it will be different. It wasn’t.
Optimism faded as quickly as one taking a quick lie down in a valley full of poppies. I said, wake me up when my #dreamjob turns up.
The point is that we all want to believe in the yellow brick road. Our ego sets us off on the path. We join the sexy start up, the powerful conglomerate, the beer Friday edgy culture gig all in the pursuit of something Great (and Powerful.)
The yellow brick road is the hook for ambitious dreamers.
The truth is that America’s streets aren’t paved with gold and neither are the streets of your career journey.
It’s going to be hard. You will grow in painful ways. It will be exhilarating. And along the way you will build more than computer skills or business acumen. You will build character — especially when the road is a hard one.
In my career story it was the character that I developed, the resiliency and grit that turns out I had all along, that has led me to a place beyond ego.
This journey led me home. Home being the most truthful version of myself. And there’s no place like home.
If you want to talk career pitfalls, joys, challenges, and yellow brick roads – email me. I love to dish.