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Seeking Advice From Our Younger Guide

Aaron McHugh

On my office wall, I have a four- by five-inch photo of myself taken in 1994 standing in the doorframe of a burnt orange and primer gray Ford cattle truck named John Wayne’s Horse. I drove it that summer to drop off high school kids at remote backcountry trailheads in the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado. My wife and I were newlyweds, living at 9,000 feet in a twelve- by fifteen-foot log cabin built in the 1930s. Our adult life was infinite with possibility. My face in this photo is bright, and my smile is full of mischief, and in the depths of my eyes, I see a deep satisfaction.

That guy-he is my younger guide. I have invited him back into my life as a counselor to my career’s biggest questions. He stares at me while I work and mythically dialogues with me. Last year when I needed a career advisor, I imagined telling him-the bright-faced happy kid-that I’m considering playing it safe. “I’m going to accept their offer and sign up for the private equity conquest. No, I don’t love it. In fact, I’m bored and have difficulty making it through a week. I’d rather leave behind this software technology career I’ve spent nearly fifteen years creating—but I get paid a lot, and I’m not sure I can replace my income starting a new career.”

I can picture his jaw-dropping, disbelief in his eyes and ready to shake me. I hear him saying, “Aaron. Bro. We can’t allow this. This was not the dream. You cannot resign yourself because you’re scared and uncomfortable with uncertainty. Don’t you remember how we were going to go into the business world, but people—not money—were always going to be the mission? What happened to you?”

We can lose sight and connection with our original dreams when real life happens, the road gets rocky, and our obligations shroud our visibility into those distant origins. Our younger guide isn’t divided. Maybe it’s time to seek some advice from your innocent advisor that knows you best?

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