Quest for Meaning in A Jagged Path

By Masimba Biriwasha | Preoccupations | @ChiefKMasimba | January 05 2014

What happens when your career path meanders in a way that you never imagined, taking you in directions that you could have never plotted?

It’s a question that I have pondered upon of late as I reflect on a career that has taken to me to different parts of the world so far with too many ups and downs to count.

It’s been a like a roller coaster trip but through it all I have managed to discover some interesting things about myself. The things I have discovered are not so much about what career path to take but what brings a spark to my soul.

For instance, I know now that I love design, aesthetics fascinate me, I love tech. I like interesting challenges. Repetitive stuff must build to something, otherwise it becomes a bore. Tyranny sucks. No-one has all the ideas. I love writing. I love publishing. Futuristic things tickle my fancy. I think entrepreneurship is important. I love starting things. I love books, newspapers and magazines. I like progressive ideas.

I can say all this with confidence now but it has taken some serious bruising for the light to descend on me. In a way, the journey has strengthened me in as much as it has been both painful and interesting.

When I started working ten years ago, I had no fixated thoughts about where my career was going to go: I was somewhat open to everything. After all, opportunities were limited due to Zimbabwe’s political and economic fallout.

My first job as a media researcher fired me up but after a while it turned out to be drab, repetitive and downright boring. Many times I just held my head between my hands and just cried, praying for a way out of all the drudgery.

Looking back, I realize that it was the only job I held for more than two years. When I look at my résumé, it certainly looks like I have been hip hopping from job to job. But now I am aware that it’s not just about the job. It’s what you bring to it. If you focus so much on what you get from a job, you’ll have a career that sucks.

More important, I’m affected by the values espoused in a workplace. In some of my  workplaces, managers were not so nice to their subordinates.

I think managers and leaders need to have high levels of empathy. They need to respect people. Leadership is not a license to tyranny.

I value openness, diversity, humility and – most important – authenticity. I want to be part of something of greater purpose that’s larger than me.

I don’t have any regret about the trajectory of my career. For sure, it’s been peripatetic but it has helped be to see the world from wider lenses, from higher mountaintops shaped through my journeys.

In retrospect, I don’t think it’d important to have everything figure out. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work hard when opportunities present themselves or even burn your bridges. You have to work hard and do your best. In spite of circumstance, give your all to whatever you’ll be doing. Trying to set plans in stone can be toxic.

Above all, expose yourself to the world. Travel, if you can. And don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh a lot. And make time to enjoy nature. Watch a butterfly twirl against the wind. Plant a tree.


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