Project Management

The Pros and Cons of Single-Mindedness in Career Development

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

When I was a child, my mother always used to tell me to “aim high and hold the aim.” What she meant was that it was important to believe that I could do anything I wanted, and then to keep focused on that goal, doing whatever it took to achieve it.

And I did. Putting aside the childhood dreams of being a rock star (!), from the age of around 8 I knew I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps in the British military. I did all my research, I was part of the cadets at school, I met with the military career counselor every time he visited my school. My career ambitions were well set.

And then, three months before I finished school, the medical requirements for the role I wanted to pursue were changed and my eyesight went from being just inside the cut-off to being just outside. My career dreams were destroyed. I had aimed high, held the aim and been denied.

Now don’t feel sorry for me. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be sitting here now writing this, I wouldn’t have met a colleague in my chosen career and gone out for a drink with him after work one evening. Which means I wouldn’t have been in the pub at the same time as the woman who would go on to become my wife was, and we would never have met.

I don’t know what would have happened if the medical requirements hadn’t changed, but I’m pretty …

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"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson