I probably have no bigger fan (and critic) than my mom. Although she devours every single blog post, article or news of my speaking or consulting, she will still call me out when she feels it most warranted, and I am amazed at both her energy and passion.

Just recently, she sent me a message from a fortune cookie she opened after eating at her favorite Chinese restaurant:

The sentiment behind it is clear: sitting around for “your ship” leaves you with nothing but a sore butt, and it is only through action can you truly make your fortune come true.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with my middle child a long time ago. He was convinced he needed to know what his career choice would be before making a move. This is the same thinking someone sitting on a beach, watching the ships venture in and out of the port and deciding which was “his ship”, would have. An observer, no matter how close he was to the ships, would never know which was “the one” he was supposed to be in just by watching from afar.

The key lies in looking for a sea-worthy ship with a good captain on board. When you find this, start learning the ropes. Start taking on responsibility and become a good member of the crew. Through this, you can learn interpersonal skills that can come in handy in the future. Most importantly, observe the difference between good and bad leadership.

Should you feel that the ship, the captain or the mission is unsuitable for you, then waste no time getting on another ship. Even if you don’t find “your ship” immediately, you will still gain experience, knowledge and expand your skills in the process, unlike someone who ends up just sitting on the deck, waiting. They are learning nothing and experiencing nothing (except perhaps, boredom).

Whether you’re uncertain about your career choice or just simply grounded into inertia, taking a reasoned, calculated step in a direction is better than taking no step at all. The action itself will guide you to know whether that is the right direction or not. Listen to smart people around you and consider their advice in accordance with how much you trust them to have your best interest at heart.

And if your mom reaches out to give you advice — listen — really listen.

David is an international speaker, executive coach, serial entrepreneur, and shipwreck survivor. He is the bestselling author of Grounded (Little River, 2016) . If you’re interested in David’s expertise in the areas of leadership, finance, and public speaking, please get in touch here.

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