It’s a Jungle Out There…The Best Advice I Ever Got

11143769 - amazonian rainforest in ecuador with many bromeliads in foreground

Remember Tarzan? Whether you know the Disney version or the old black and whites with Johnny Weissmuller, the iconic image of Tarzan swinging through the jungle is something most of us know. How was it that a vine was always right where he needed one? That those vines would create a perfect pathway to take him where he wanted to go?

Although a fictional character, it’s a great metaphor for trusting our gut instinct. That’s what allowed Tarzan to trust his choices, accept the risk that it might not all go as hoped and to trade the safety of what he knew and go for it anyway. I like to believe, too, that if he lost his grip on the vine and fell, he’d get up and go on. It’s that advice that has influenced many of the choices I’ve made, and I’m grateful for it.

Because of this advice, my career has turned out to be a series of exciting, challenging and rewarding opportunities because, like Tarzan, I reached out for a vine and it was one that led me into new and uncharted markets. I could not possibly have known when I left Hewlett Packard that I’d be part of teams that blazed trails in e-commerce, supply chain management, data and analytics, and now, robotics. These start-up environments have been fertile ground for learning – much more so, I think, than had I stayed with the safe-bet of HP. Some of the best lessons will always be with me:

  • In emerging technology markets, you can’t fake it. You’ve got to believe in what you’re doing and bring that commitment and passion to work every day.
  • You have to surround yourself with bright, talented people; you have to treat them with respect and you have trust that they will do their best.
  • You have to move quickly and again, like Tarzan, trust your gut that the choices you make will get you where you want to go.

When I look back at where I’ve been, and how each stop along the way turned out to be the right one for that time, I’m amazed. No doubt, they’ve all had their unique twists and turns. Some days it was exhilarating – like a roller coaster ride. Some days I wondered if it really was all worth it. But in the end, every vine I grabbed took me somewhere I could learn new skills and become a better leader, cultivate new ways of thinking, and adapt to the constant evolution of business and technology. I just had to trust that when I was ready, the vine would be there for me to take that next step.

Originally published on Beet Fusion.