Monday, June 14, 2010

Are we there yet?

Any trip worth going on would not be complete without hearing the words "are we there yet?," especially if you have children.

My daughter Leila's version of this question is: "how long have we been sitting here?"

She asks this most often when she is really looking forward to getting to where ever we are going; whether it is a 10 minute trip to Kroger to ride the shopping cart with the make-believe car, or a 4 hour trip to visit her cousin Claudia in New York. But in truth, the reason she is asking this is because she has been told that the adventure begins when we "get there," and not "while we are getting there."

With our destination-driven mindset, we over emphasize the destination and as a result devalue the journey in getting there. I believe that when we do this, we do ourselves and our children a disservice. As a result, it is difficult to appreciate the journey when all we want to do is get to the destination.

So it begs the question, can you get a 5 year old to appreciate the journey of a 4 hour plane trip? I think so. When the adventure is more about the journey such as riding the plane, seeing the cock pit, visiting with a pilot and playing games while on board. Seeing the journey as the adventure makes getting to your destination more enjoyable and beneficial.

As adults, we are no different than my daughter Leila. In fact we have been very well trained to focus solely on the destination with little regard for the journey. Whether your destination is getting the job you want, making more money, or finding the right life partner, it's difficult to enjoy the ride getting there when all you want to do is to be where you want to be: In the right job. Making the right kind of money. With the right person.

Unless of course, you reframe the journey as the adventure to be lived instead of solely focusing on the destination.

When you do this you gain two major benefits that can help you get to your destination more smoothly:

1. You gain perspective to see if you need to change your approach. Focusing on the ride provides you with valuable learning and practical feedback that you can apply to the ongoing journey to your destination.

2. You have a clearer picture of your destination. You can see that your destination is not fixed and that you can course correct your destination by incorporating these present realities.

Roadblocks such as layoffs, job demotions, and bad bosses may be well needed in order to assist you to course correct your destination or your approach in which you are trying to get to your destination. Yet, when you are solely focused on the destination, it is hard to see these roadblocks as providing any value.

It is only when you appreciate and fully live the journey that you can be ready to accept the destination that comes your way. Life happens on the journey, even if you end up in a different place than where you intended.

I think Warren Buffet says it best in this recent quote "The truth is, everything that has happened in my life...that I thought was a crushing event at the time, has turned out for the better, lessons that carry you along. You learn that a temporary defeat is not a permanent one. In the end, it can be an opportunity."

At some point, asking "are we there yet?" is no longer relevant. The question needs to become a question that helps keep the focus on the journey which is "where and how do we need to go now?" I believe that is how Buffet succeeded in the long run despite being rejected at age 19 by Harvard Business School.

Learning the tools to adjust and accept the journey allows you to reach greater destinations. Destinations that aren't held so tightly that you have to kill yourself to get them. But, destinations that bend and flow with what is happening around and inside of you.

With any destination that you have, be sure to embrace the journey and ask "where and how do I need to go now?" Learning to accept and embrace your journey will not only make you a happier person, it will actually enable you to exceed your goals and reach new destinations you may never have dreamed of before.

Happy Travels!

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