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Limitations, Ladders, & Labyrinths

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.

You certainly usually find something, if you look,

but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

In my discussions with young professionals about their goals, I generally hear slightly different versions of the same story, and it goes something like this. Start in an entry level position to gain experience, move into a better role or to a better employer to pad their resume, and then finally take a management level position…seemingly for eternity. The process they are describing is the idea of Career Ladders, which sound great in theory, but probably need to be replaced by something more accurate.

Careers (and life!) are more like a labyrinth than a ladder, with surprises around every turn and many paths leading to a dead end. J.R.R. Tolkien was right…the something we end up with is not always quite the something we were after. And all of this is OK. In fact, it is better than OK, as every dead-end forces you to try a different path, and that one may be the best path!

In the traditional golf industry, there was really only one path, which led from Assistant Professional to Head Professional. But the world is changing fast, and with it new opportunities have emerged. When I entered the industry in 1997, there was no such thing as Trackman, Golf Genius, or TopGolf; but now each of those companies offers a viable career for PGA Professionals. These examples are proof that new paths may yet emerge that you can not even consider today.

Your success in navigating this labyrinth is made even more difficult by your limitations (both personal & professional), which reduce the number of choices you have and the number of paths you can take. Examples of Limitations include:

  • Geographical - limiting the number of places you are willing to live

  • Skills - making you unqualified for certain positions

  • Financial - salary demands exclude opportunities

  • Values - the things that are most important to you don’t match the job description

  • Health – you are physically unable to pursue certain opportunities

Denying any or all of your personal or professional limitations make it significantly more difficult to navigate the labyrinth. On the other hand, identifying and embracing them is beneficial, and an important first step. In fact, this is one of the key components of the Personal & Professional Development Model. If you have already registered, you may have already completed this exercise and I hope you are enjoying the process. If not, please click the link below.

A reminder that this is NOT ONLY for those seeking new opportunities, but rather for anyone who wants to align the work they do to their values, gain new skills, level up in their current role, or simply feel more in control of their future. Through this guided process, I believe you can take another step in the direction of becoming the best possible version of yourself. I also believe that act will lead to career success, personal achievement, and fulfillment both personally and professionally.

Navigating the Labyrinth with you,

Michael Mueller, PGA Career Consultant

Proudly serving the Carolinas Section


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Fuquay Varina, NC

©2017 by Michael Mueller, PGA