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How often do you take a detour?

Today is February 8 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you take a detour?” Entrepreneur Mary Kay said "For every failure, there's an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour."

Navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living well will involve a detour every now and then. On our path of life unexpected construction, disabled vehicles, and animal crossings will happen. When your life path is block, how do you respond? Do you wait? Do you retreat? Do you take a detour? You have a choice after all and how you respond will determine your ability to translate one dream after another into reality.

As with most daily reflections in this Navigate the Chaos series, there is a nuance involved. Some people get detoured off of their original track and go follow a separate one while others stay on the track but get detoured under, around, or over one obstacle after another as they navigate the chaos of life. Two people that relied upon the detour strategy to navigate the chaos were Stanley Tucci and Derek Ryan.

Stanley Tucci exemplifies today’s reflection and took a detour from acting into food. Writing for The New York Times, Alex Marshall published “Stanley Tucci’s Passion Was Acting. Now, It’s Food,” on October 2, 2021, and reviewed Tucci’s new book Taste: My Life Through Food. Towards the end of treatments for his scare with cancer, Tucci detoured from acting and followed his passion for food by launching a six-part CNN series, “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” in which he charmed his way around his grandparents’ home country, snacking. As a follow up to his CNN series, Tucci wrote Taste.

As Marshall noted in his review “One surprise of the book is that it barely touches on Tucci’s decades-long-acting career, which includes roles in Julie & Julia, The Hunger Games and The Devil Wears Prada. There’s no score-settling or even celebrity gossip” in Tucci’s book. When asked about the lack of career reflection Tucci said “All that’s terribly boring stuff. What’s far more interesting is you’re going through life, you have this trajectory and this vision, then suddenly this whole other good thing is like a sidecar attached to you, and you’re off in another direction.”

Derek Ryan took a detour and in so doing altered his ability to play professional hockey. Ryan was a professional hockey player with the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League (NHL) and knows something about detours on his way to play in the NHL. Born in 1986 he made his NHL debut on March 1, 2016, at 29 years of age. This is even more remarkable given the fact that most players today make their NHL debut when they are 20 years old. Thus, the probability of making it to the NHL gradually decreases every year after 20 years of age.

After he played four seasons of major junior hockey (2003-2007) in the Western Hockey League with his hometown of Spokane (Washington) Chiefs, the NHL scouts had little interest in him due to his size. Ryan stands 5’10” 170lbs and was considered too diminutive to be drafted. He then played (detour #1) four seasons of Canadian college hockey (2007-2011) and received a degree in human physiology.

After that he played (detour #2) in Europe for four seasons, the first three of which were in the EBEL in Austria, where he scored 90 goals and had 109 assists in 158 regular-season games. On April 14, 2014, Ryan signed a contract to play (detour #3) in the Swedish Hockey League and did well enough to be selected as the league’s Forward of the Year and the SHL Most Valuable Player. On June 15, 2015, eight years after being turned down by the NHL scouts, and after three detours (Canadian college, European league, Swedish league) Ryan signed with the Carolina Hurricanes.

During his playing years in Europe Ryan had married and he and his wife Bonnie had two children. Reflecting upon his detours Ryan said “I think it makes it a lot easier to have your wife to come live with you because it can be pretty lonely by yourself, just a few guys on the team that speak English. I could talk for another hour about the ways Bonnie has pushed me. No one goes the route that I have gone without the full support of her and what she’s done for our family while I’m gone.”

Ryan took three detours on his way to the NHL. Sadly, during his journey his mother Nancy died in her sleep and never saw her son play in the NHL. Tim Ryan, Derek’s father called his son’s path to the NHL “the road never traveled…not less traveled. It’s never traveled.”

No one had traveled Derek Ryan’s path to the NHL. So what? Does it matter that you are traveling a unique path? Who cares? Just because it was never done before certainly does not mean it cannot be done. Go and do it. Walk the path. Take the detours. Struggle. Find a new route. All that matters is that you never quit. Ryan never gave up his dream of playing in the NHL. His three detours allowed him to keep moving forward.

To recap:

  • From 20-24 Ryan attended, and graduated, from University of Alberta (detour #1)

  • From 25-27 he played in the European league (detour #2)

  • From 28-29 he played in Sweden (detour #3)

  • At age 29 he made his NHL debut

English physicist Sir James Hopwood Jeans noted: “The really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery, even when they have to take a detour. Make the best of what is necessary…if you can’t have what you love, love what you have…as there are lovable or at least positive aspects in everything because anything could be worse.”

Ryan had multiple opportunities to quit, retreat, or take a detour. He found a way to keep moving forward taking one detour after another. He ‘made the best of what was necessary’ and kept doing what he loved and played hockey one detour after another.

  • When you are faced with a roadblock what do you do?

  • Do you take a detour or give up?

  • Does it really matter that it took you longer to translate one dream into reality due to a detour?

  • Do you encourage others to take a detour when they are faced with a roadblock?

  • How often do you enjoy the scenery, even when it’s part of the detour?

  • How often do you make the best of what is necessary?

  • Do you have any examples of people in your life that took a detour?


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