Trajectory: A book review by Bob Morris

TrajectoryTrajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You from Where You Are to Where You Need to Be
David L. Van Rooy
AMACOM (2014)

“What got you here won’t get you there.” Marshall Goldsmith

Think of an organization’s history as a journey that begins at Point A and ends at Point Z. Now think of that process in terms of its trajectory – the course it follows – and the extent to which individuals as well as organizations control it. David Van Rooy recommends seven strategies to guide and inform as well as support a trajectory, all of which are based on a solid foundation. He devotes a separate chapter to each of the strategies and they are best revealed in context, within the narrative. However, I don’t think I will compromise anyone’s reading of this book but pointing out that no one can control what happens during a trajectory’s tenure but it is possible to control responses to detours, setbacks, barriers, and threats. Van Rooy offers a wealth of information, examples, insights, and counsel with regard to how to managed trajectories while duly noting that no two trajectories are the same. The importance of preparation and resilience cannot be exaggerated.

Readers will appreciate the inclusion of exercises that will facilitate interaction with the material in each chapter. A page is then provided for “Notes,” although I strongly recommend also having a lined notebook near at hand to supplement highlighting key passages. Shrewd business leaders will re-read the book at least once and revisit the exercises 6-9 months after first completing the exercises and complete them again, this time taking full advantage of what has been learned since first reading the book and applying at least some of the material it provides.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Van Rooy’s coverage.

o Your Trajectory’s Foundation (Pages 9-10)
o A Matter if Mindset (14-17)
o Overcoming Your Own Resistance (33-36)
o Capitalizing on Feedback (42-45)
o Environmental-based and Unconscious Feedback (46-51)
o The Psychology of Persistence (57-61)
o “Range Restriction” When Hiring (67-69)
o Learning from Navy SEALs (72-74)
o Reach for Your Summits, and Goal Management (82-89)
o Distracted Decision Making Stabilization and Flow, and, Look Past Success to New Innovation (92-97)
o Stabilization and Flow, and, Look Past Success to New Innovation (116-124)
o Stagnation in Concept, and, (Two) Types of Stagnation (131-143)
o Halting Stagnation (148-151)
o Uncover the Positive (164-168)
o Visualize Your Success, and, Believe Your Success (185-189)
o Enjoy Your Success (198-202)

I agree with David Van Rooy: “There is a reason that the windshield is bigger than the mirror: It is more important to focus on what is ahead of you than on what you left behind. You learn from the latter, occasionally look back to ensure that you don’t repeat mistakes, and then look ahead. I will leave you with this: Be true to yourself. Be true to others. This will be the authentic you. If you do, you will own your trajectory. Now go get it. Live your trajectory.”

To these observations I presume to add another, a lesson learned from failure rather than from success: You can control everything that happens to you but you CAN control how you respond to what happens to you. Whatever goals you set, the pursuit of each will have its own pace and pattern, its own definition. Achieving one goal may facilitate (perhaps expedite) achieving another. Expect barriers, setbacks, and distractions.

Individuals have careers; organizations have histories. With only minor revisions, Van Rooy’s recommendations can help to elevate and extend the trajectory of either. Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s Polonius was right when advising son Laertes in Hamlet (Act I, scene 3):

“This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

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