As far back as I can remember, I never really felt that I fitted in with my peers, but being a fairly sociable guy I had always mixed well with others. Up to the age of 12 I was very much a follower, fairly shy, and quite happy to spend my spare time with my hobbies.
Making aeroplane RC models, river fishing, collecting and documenting wild flowers, the night sky, and fiddling with anything electronic – these were my early passions.
I left school at 16 years old with very little in terms of qualifications. In fact I disliked school and most of the people in it apart from one or two close friends. But during those last two developing years I noticed a change in myself. I certainly liked drawing attention to myself, stopping just short of showing off!
I started work as an electronic apprentice in a government research and development establishment, but got side-tracked by girls and guitars – by now I had thrown myself into becoming good at playing guitar and it pretty much dominated my life at that time.
I just avoided being thrown out of my apprenticeship due to my total disinterest in work and learning, and my passion for playing music up and down the south of England until the wee hours of the morning!
My next passion had to do with girls – in fact I got married at the tender age of 22 and I must have been the most immature husband any girl would never wish for…
I still immersed myself in my passion for playing guitar and played as a semi-professional in numerous bands and groups up until the age of 45.
By now I wanted to grow my career and immersed myself in mastering electronic engineering resulting in being awarded an honours degree at the age of 32 and being promoted three times in that period. The government even awarded me a worldwide patent for development work I had volunteered for during my lunch times.
I could go on, but I’ll save those stories for another time.
Can you see a pattern emerging here?
I never set personal or professional goals – I just immersed myself in my passions.
I guess I’ve got Earl Nightingale to thank for making the way I was living and managing my life make some form of sense to me. It was he who coined the term ‘river people’ as a type of individual who is not in the least ‘goal oriented’.
Earl describes it as those who wish to be a success as a human being, find, often early in life, a rich river of interest into which they throw themselves with exuberance and abandon. Spending their lives working and playing in that river gives them immense satisfaction.
River people are explorers, continually seeking out learning opportunities and new experiences.
For river people, joy comes from the journey, not from reaching the destination — exactly the opposite of goal people.
From the standpoint of creativity, river people are more likely to benefit from serendipity, because they tend to be more open to new ideas, points of view and insights than single-minded, focused goal people.
River people do not need to set goals as success is almost inevitable due to their passions.
Work is a magnet for river people and they really can’t imagine doing anything else. Doing what they do is their pleasure and is more important to them than the worldly trappings of success which will ultimately come to them.
These are folks who have found, often early in their life, a great river of interest into which they throw themselves with energy and passion. They will happily play in that river for the rest of their lives.
The river may be a branch of science or the arts. Even after a 16 hour day, they can’t wait to get back to it.
These people are happiest and most alive when they’re in their river in whatever business or career or profession it happens to be.
Success in their river is inevitable, and it was a sure outcome from the first moment they determined thei
And success comes to such people as inevitable as a sunrise. In fact, they are successes the moment they find their great field of interest; the worldly trappings of success will always come in time. Such people don’t have to ask, “What will I do with my life?” Their work is a magnet for them, and they can’t imagine doing anything else.
A goal person is one who writes down their objectives and develops a schedule for achieving them, and then focus on attaining them, one by one.
In this way, goal people give their creative minds a clear set of stimuli to work on. Their subconscious minds can then get to work incubating ideas and insights that will help them to reach their goals.
River people hardly ever had a detailed plan along with measurable goals, but because they are so passionate about their interest, they are able to recognize and grasp the tipping points of breakthrough opportunities.
Much like a river, river people are at their most fulfilled during the journey and not from reaching the destination. This is in stark contrast and also counter-intuitive to those who set goals with the climax not being reached until the goal has been achieved.
While I understand the benefit of setting goals, I have never achieved anything in life due to goal setting when used in isolation.
River people also recognize goals but see these as islands of opportunity on their life’s journey down their chosen river.
If the last few paragraphs have resonated with you, then it may be that you too are River Person, and is so you may have the key to moving forward and achieving great success, while more importantly enjoying your life’s journey with greater pleasure and fulfillment accompanied by far less stress.
Whatever your chosen approach to setting and meeting your goals, one of the best ways to meet them is using the knowledge, skills and experience of project management, so hop on over HERE and find out more!
David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of project-related streaming video training products under the Masterclass brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.
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