Job Search, Canyoning Style

Canyoning (‘canyoneering in the U.S. / kloofing in South-Africa / torrentismo in Italian) is travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling (rappelling), and swimming.

canyoningIn the mountains of Spain, in the middle of what many might describe as nowhere, there is a tiny blip of a town called Jorox, and in Jorox there is a gate which opens onto a creek. Which leads to a river. In a gorge: a narrow, jagged edged fissure in the mountains of Jorox, with steep rocky walls and waterfalls jettisoning torrents of ice cold water toward the Mediterranean Sea.

Standing at the gate, looking up at the mountains and down at the rocky creekbed, the inordinate power and beauty of nature is humbling. Thoughts swirl like the rapids over the rocks: Can I do this? Does anyone know we’re here? One wrong move and…

Protected by a wetsuit, helmet, old tennis shoes and (we hope) a company’s liability coverage, we are keenly aware of our circumstances, our limitations, the risks. We discover a serious language barrier between our guides and our group. We wonder if we really want to be here, doing this. But we are here. We have come too far to turn back, so we have to muster up the courage to get through it; we have to reach deep inside ourselves for faith to trust things we can’t control, and people we can’t understand. Words like “fortitude” and “grit” come to mind. And “pluck.” Does anyone use the word pluck anymore?

When we finally have the audacity to push open the gate and step into the creek, the journey becomes a series of careful steps, tying and untying ropes, looking up, down and sideways before making decisions, and trusting our wits and ingenuity to move forward in the right direction. The exhilaration of  reaching the destination is worth it. We come out on the other side changed, better for having made the journey, and mostly unharmed.

Cool. But what does this have to do with job searching?

  • The fear of it will keep many people from pursuing a job change, even when the current situation is untenable. It just feels overwhelming.
  • Deciding to make a change, or through a layoff having the decision made for you, the time comes when you assess your gear: will this resume, education, blue suit and shiny shoes be enough?
  • Does anyone know I’m doing this? Job searching can feel lonely. For some people, networking comes naturally; for others, it takes a little more… pluck.
  • Who can I trust to help me? The only people who get more unsolicited advice than job seekers are people buying houses, and maybe brides and grooms. Everyone’s been there, so they say, and their ways are certainly the best ways to job search. The communication barriers might be subtle, but they’re there.

Take careful steps. Tie and untie the ropes that tie your career experiences together, and look around carefully before making decisions about where you apply, how you negotiate, etc. Call on your faith, wits and ingenuity to lead you in the right direction. It might seem like a slow process at times, but the exhilaration of reaching the destination is worth it. That is, if you have the audacity to step into the creek.

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