When I graduated some twenty years ago with my MBA, my mindset was the exact opposite of what I shared with my son that day. I was certain the way to excel in business and in life was by sheer determination. I truly believed that my success would come by setting my sights on a goal and then going straight for it. With that as my strategy, I plowed toward my goals no matter what was in my way. In fact, I plowed through things that had no business being plowed through.
I clearly remember the person who first challenged me on my approach. His name was Vish. Vish was always railing on me. He was a brutal boss, and he took every occasion to tell me what I was doing was wrong. He could drive me, a grown businessman, to tears.
One day, Vish came into my office and said, “Rich, let me show you what your problem is!” (This was how many of my conversations with Vish started, but this time our exchange was eye-opening.) He walked over to my door and deliberately locked and then unlocked it. When it was unlocked, he swung it open and said, “This is a door that actually opens. You do not always have to try to bust the door down. All you have to do is unlock it and then turn the doorknob.”
As I thought about what he was saying, I realized how many times I had chosen not to use the doorknob in my career and in other parts of my life. I just tried to plow through whatever door was between me and my goal—locked or unlocked. In so doing, I was living contrary to a law of nature. Nature did not intend for me to walk through closed doors anymore than it expected my son to point his skis straight downhill and go.