“The craft of your career comes in picking the right hills. Hills just challenging enough that you can barely make it over. A series of hills becomes a mountain, and a series of mountains is a career.”  – Seth Godin, Author

When we turn away from challenges, or we feel that we don’t have any challenges to face, it’s a plateau. Some people are satisfied on a plateau. Others get restless because they aren’t being challenged – they need the hills. In a recent blog post, Godin notes that selecting the right hills is as important as finding the hills in the first place.

But the concept can be further distilled, and cycling makes a great example. The greatest challenge in cycling is not the hills, not the flats, not trying to hang on to the wheel of the rider in front of you, but getting out the door and on the bike. I have ridden in horrible weather – freezing cold, snow, sleet, pouring rain that left the road barely visible, and wind that nearly knocks you right off the bike. I have been dusted by senior citizens with a million miles on their legs, who just look back over their shoulder like Lance Armstrong did to demoralize Jan Ullrich in his famous attack up l’Alpe D’Huez in the 2001 Tour de France. But on the return home, cold and tired as I may be, I never regret my decision to get out the door.

This same rule applies to life and career – half of the challenge is getting out the door so you can find, and attack, the hills. This may mean making a cold call. It may be jumping at the opportunity to take on a project that you’ve never done before, simply because of the experience you’ll gain in the process. It may mean voicing your desire to take on a new role within a business or organization.

As communications professionals we are fortunate that opportunities to get out the door and climb some hills are frequent. This is especially true with the notable changes that digital communications present: the ability to self publish content, the rise of video as a communications tool, and in the growth of mobile device users who share and receive information in real-time, to name a few.

So get out the door and find some hills. Ideally hills that you can make it over, but as Godin points out – just barely.

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Thanks for the help:

Seth Godin: “An endless series of difficult but achievable hills

Traction Bikes: 10 Most Memorable Moments of Lance’s 7 Tour Wins