Duck Pond Career Wisdom

Stepping stones provide a safe passage through deep water

As the young man glanced across the large, deep duck pond, a treasure glistening in the sunlight caught his attention on the other side. The magnetism of capturing a glimpse of this treasure welled up within him, directing his attention across the waters.

The only problem was that he didn’t know how he’d make it across the pond.

All of a sudden, about a metre from the shore, a stepping stone emerged from the depths of the water. He tentatively stepped onto it, finally transferring his full weight on top of the boulder.

It took him a while to become fully comfortable and balanced on the stepping stone. He looked back at the land where he had come from and was quite proud of his progress so far. When he turned back around to face the treasure, another stepping stone had emerged in front of him.

However, to reach this one he’d have to jump. After developing the courage, he launched himself across the expanse of water.

He landed on the platform with one leg but his momentum carried him towards the water. Luckily he noticed that there was another stone right next to it. What a coincidence! He quickly stepped onto the adjacent stone with his trailing foot, only to find himself face down in the water. Upon surfacing he realized that he’d mistaken a large, flat lily pad for the third stone.

Embarrassed, he climbed back onto the second stone. After drying off, he became acquainted with the new stone’s surface. Glancing across the pond he again caught a glimpse of the treasure, seemingly ‘calling’ him toward it.

Expecting the next stone to appear in front of him, he was surprised when it appeared diagonally behind him. Reluctantly he stepped onto it, but was surprised by what he learnt and how much he grew personally by standing on it.

When the next stone appeared it positioned him even closer towards the glistening treasure. Surprisingly it was an easy step, with a stable foundation and a flat surface.

With all of its’ twists and turns, embarrassing confusion with lily pads, challenging steps and easy steps, and occasionally landing in the water, his journey across the duck pond, projected him towards the treasure. The key was to enjoy each new situation and learn from the journey.


Our career journey is often quite similar. We have a sense of a ‘calling’, a destiny or a reason why we’re on the planet. As we head towards it we receive opportunities to explore our potential through different stages (stepping stones), for example, educational institutions, following our sports or cultural interests, networking and developing relationships, involvement with community groups, travel, and casual, part-time or full time jobs.

 The key to progressing to another ‘stepping stone’ is to sincerely, honestly and diligently apply ourselves to the situation in which we find ourselves. If we see our situation as an opportunity to progress along our career journey, it makes the path so much more interesting and enjoyable.

 Unexpected career turns, which appear as set-backs or seemingly backward steps, can often project us even faster forward into our future career pathway. If we’re wise, we can learn from the lily pad experiences by being able to discern the deceptive ‘opportunities’ often presented to us. With insight, wise counsel and an effective career counselling session we can recognize and avoid these ‘false stepping stone’ experiences in our journey.

 We are capable of becoming overly comfortable in a particular job or position, but we know that there is something within us wanting to contest the status quo of our career existence. However, when a definitely positive opportunity presents itself, it can take courage to launch ourselves towards it. We know our sense of feeling uncomfortable in the new position will eventually dissipate and we’ll grow professionally and personally as a result of our new step – but pushing off from our old comfortable work environment can often be a challenge.

 In summary, instead of a straight line path, a career journey is often represented by a number of different steps. These opportunities can come within staggered time periods, can be painfully presented by retrenchment or ‘restructuring’ or are occasionally masqueraded by seemingly peculiar circumstances.

 May you be encouraged to stay true to your inner career calling, to wisely discern the opportunities presented to you and learn the lessons presented at each stage. Furthermore, if you ever mistake a lily pad for a real stepping stone, there are heaps of previous stepping stones to climb back onto. Finally, may you be reminded to enjoy the journey … and to take some bread to feed the ducks!

 Pleasant Dreams,

 Brian Horan


Brian Horan is a Careers Counselor/Coach, a published author and international speaker. He is also the Managing Director at eCareers Academy, a Career Counselling service. You can find out more about his services by visiting the website , giving him a call on 1300 396 929 or sending an email,

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© Brian Horan at eCareers Academy; March, 2015

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