River Currents and Productive Careers

healthy stream

I was watching a documentary the other evening about a stream clean up effort on the Raritan River in Pennsylvania, sponsored by Orvis. It was both uplifting and educational at the same time.

Take a look:

One of the facts I found interesting, and somewhat counterintuitive, was that a river actually flows faster and carries more sediment if it has frequent bends in it, and not just a straight channel. It seems that a straight channel tends to slow the river down, drop its sediment, thus filling up the channel and at the same time eroding the banks and widening the channel, further slowing the water. Before long the silt and sediment cover the bottom, deprive the aquatic insects of oxygen and vegetation, thus slowing killing the river of animal life.

The restoration of this particular part of the South Branch of the Raritan River involved building U-shaped weirs using boulders and piling silt from the bottom onto alternating opposite sides of the channel.  A healthy river is born and can be more self-sustaining with these minor structural shifts.

Career Advice:

I always look for life analogies in nature (comes naturally being a former Marine Biologist and Ecologist) and the fact that a bending river is healthier and can carry more sediment got me thinking about my daughter, Stephanie and helping her plan her life ahead.

While I probably have zero power to design a career path, my stories and analogies seem to have an influence, maybe not right away but, like little time bombs of wisdom, they eventually go off and provide value.

Seems to me there are two basic types of career paths – the focused straight and direct towards the goal (say becoming a doctor or a lawyer), and the somewhat circuitous path, picking up experiences and insights from various opportunities, but always headed in the same general direction.

Stephanie is on the later pathway.  Her dream is to become a classical music conductor and to be the youngest female conductor for the BBC Proms Gala season closing finale! NYO SEC Clear as a bell in her mind. But she is taking the winding path, picking up experiences along the way. Reading classical and modern literature, meeting famous conductors, leading the orchestra for West Side Story by the National Youth Music Theatre, playing in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, having a work experience at the Royal Opera House in London, competing for BBC Young Musician of the Year, going to the Wagner opera festival in Germany, listening to pop music, writing poetry, reading Moliere in French.  Twisting and turning left and right, picking up knowledge and experience that will eventually blend together to form valuable insights for her future career in music.

Neither path is better than the other, just different ways of getting to your chosen career.  The most important thing is to have a clear goal, a passion, and the courage to go after it. Great careers don’t just happen, but they do happen one day at a time.

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
This entry was posted in Classical Music, ecosystems, flyfishing, Human Psychology, John R Childress, leadership, Life Skills, parenting, Self-improvement and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s