The day before yesterday I took a trip to a nearby mall together with our kids and afterwards I realized they had indeed reminded, reinforced and retaught me one of the most important lessons in regards to being a successful leader in your own life.
In fact it is one of those old, well-worn wisdoms that make a huge different for the quality of our lives. So without furter ado, here it is.
It is not the completion of the goal, or the end result, that is the most important part. Instead it is the journey on the way there that is the key ingredient.
When I plan and take trips with my kids, if my main focus is the end result, the end goal, I tend to run into trouble. In this case the "goal" of our trip was to go to a mall some ways away from our home to buy two birthday presents. Both kids had been invited to separate birthday parties later that afternoon so the seeming purpose of the trip was to get presents for their friends.
Now, what this trip reminded me of was what I have learnt previously with my kids, that if I would hold the purchasing of the two gifts as the measurement for a successful, if that task is my main foucs, then I tend to get irritated at several things my kids do.
When they walk slowly looking at every little bush or bug on the way when I want to get to the store, and back. When they want to go to another part of the mall, or seven other parts, then the one I had intended. When they do not sit straight and still when we ride the train.
Now, here is the trick, the magic key if you will. To focus on the journey, to make the journey, the adventure, together the main event. Then the two presents are just a by-product of that adventure. In this case two days ago, we had to walk 25 minutes to get to the train station (well, it would have been a 15 minute walk if we would have just walked at a steady pace, but if you have or have had young kids you get the idea...), then ride on a train for 20 minutes, before another 15 minute walk.
Had I been solely focused on the attainment of the two gifts I would have missed the marvelous gifts along the way. In my attempt to be effective I would have become stressed, irritated and off-center.
Instead with a focus on the journey came wonderful games such as walking across the tiled square without touching a line, and there were lots of them, the amazing sound of the streams in the spring weather when the water makes it way from our neighborhood down through the creeks all the way to the local lake and then onwards to the ocean waiting to embrace it.
I would have missed the show on the train when the kids were testing their own balance by lying on top of the seat backs and surfing with their bodys attempting to compensate for the train's jerks and pulls. I would have missed the request to stop for smoothies at the juice bar, and boy were they yummy. I most definitely would now have had the good laugh at the kids raising up and down the escalators at the escelators, giggling at the difference in going the same direction as the movement of the escalator or the opposite way.
In short, I would have missed out. I might have arrived home with two presents, but I would have missed out on the real gifts. Focusing solely on the two presents, I would have missed the present.
It has been said about goals that the main concept of goals is not whether you acheive the goal or not, but rather who you become on your way to the goal.
I believe that when we make sure to be fully present and available for the journey we open up to new possibilities and become empowered to nurture the relationship to ourselves and those around.
So, next time you set a goal, make sure to take time to smell the roses along the way.
Oh, and just in case you are wondering, we did also end up with two great presents and the kids had a grand time at their respective parties...