In 1985, David Bradford was driving along a familiar stretch of the I-15 freeway when he saw a sign for a company called Novell. He’d heard about the great things Novell was up to and so, decided to get off at the exit for the offices and walk in to see what was going on.
After asking to speak with the President, David looked around the reception area and noticed one of the jobs listed on the jobs board was for Corporate Legal Counsel. Having been a practicing attorney for the previous eight years, he felt that that job had his name written all over it.
Two weeks later, David was moving his family from southern California to Utah where he enjoyed a 15 year ride on Novell’s rocket ship, taking the company from $40M in annual sales to $2B. He says it was one of the two best jobs he’s ever had.
All from making one decision after seeing a sign.
Signs are everywhere in our lives, and sometimes, like David, we are smart enough to take action on what they are telling us. But how often do we miss those signs altogether because we are so caught up in our own little dramas that we leave no room for any opportunity?
The comedian Bill Engvall created a great stand up bit called “Here’s your sign!” that pokes fun at people who are clueless about what should be completely obvious. While he goes after silly “brain-fart” moments everyone can have at one time or another, the message is loud and clear.
We laugh because we secretly recognize all the times we ourselves have missed the signs that could not have been more obvious. Signs that, had we heeded them at the time they presented themselves to us, could have led us to something we imagine is more rewarding than what we currently know.
Yet for a range of reasons — everything from sheer blindness to bull-headedness — we can all look back and point to at least one time in our lives when someone on the sidelines was screaming, “Here’s your sign!” and we flat out ignored it.
Hindsight is always 20/20. When we reflect on how we got to where we are today, good or bad, the signs pointing us to our current destination are always as clear as day, aren’t they? Those fork-in-the-road stories make for great dinner conversation regardless of whether or not we landed that dream job or struggled for years through tough times.
Those stories often grow in detail and magnitude as the years go by. While time does soften the edges, it’s important for us to remember that often when we were at that crossroads, when we were faced with that fork in the road, we were scared out of our minds. We were full of doubts and worries and wondering, What if I’m making the wrong choice?
David Bradford could have easily kept driving that day and missed the Novell rocket ride all together. But he made a decision — albeit a scary one — to follow the sign. The rest, as they say, is history.
So the question is, where is your sign? Are you passing it by day after day in your pursuit of something else, never seeing how brightly it’s flashing, practically begging you to notice it? Is that pursuit of something else going to get you where you really want to go?
Or could that next big thing in your life be as simple to obtain as looking up at the billboard as you drive along that all too familiar stretch of highway and deciding to take a different exit, the one that’s saying:
“Here’s your sign!”