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“The journey matters as much as the destination.”

Well-intentioned people like to remind those of us who are driven souls about this advice. But I never bought it.

I’m a destination person by nature. In business, family life — you name it. I like to know where I’m going and how I’m going to getting there. The rest is just scenery, right?!

Sound familiar? Perhaps this is you – or someone you know.

I’ve reached a lot of destinations I’ve set my sights on. Probably the biggest one was spending the last 20 years building a company from scratch and selling it to a global organization. And we reaped some great rewards from that.

So don’t get me wrong. Entrepreneurship has been the ride of my life. But chasing that big dream almost cost me far more.

STOPPED SLEEPING

There was a time when all I thought about was winning at work… until an interesting thing happened a few years ago.

As my business was growing rapidly and things were going really well … I stopped sleeping. No trouble going to sleep. But at 2:30 or 3 a.m., I was wide awake.

Dealing with all my work concerns, sure, but also asking myself one question that was burning in the back of my brain and would never go away: “Is this all there is?”

That’s a frightening thing to face if you’re a destination person. I knew I had dreams and plenty of drive. But I had always defined myself by my achievements.

If the destination wasn’t worth reaching, what was I striving for?

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MISSING THE JOURNEY ALONG THE WAY

I have found one answer that has helped turn me around. And it’s this:

It isn’t that the destination is not worth pursuing. But in my pursuit of the destination, I had missed the journey.

Maybe if I could make the journey matter more, I could reclaim my life and find deeper purpose in my work.

So how can we make the journey matter? There are many things we can do, but I want to take a closer look at two areas of your life – the BIG two — your work life, and your personal life. And share some tips that have really worked for me.

I’ve also prepared a free download called “Journey Line: A Leader’s Guide to Finding Purpose.” This is a powerful tool that will help you gain clarity about your purpose and the kind of life you want to lead.

It includes:

  • A journey line exercise that allows you to plot the highs and lows of your life and career and reflect on what you’ve learned from those experiences.
  • The five elements of purpose and how you can use them to determine your destination in life.
  • An opportunity to create a purpose statement for yourself.

I hope this proves to be a practical tool to help you make the journey matter.

MAKING THE JOURNEY MATTER AT WORK

I remember as a young professional I aspired to be a leader someday, but many of the leaders I knew and stereotypes I heard about were confusing to me. I thought in order to succeed I needed to:

  • Act tough and not show emotion,
  • Be willing to step on others to climb the corporate ladder,
  • I needed to know all the answers – or at least pretend like I did.

The problem was, I wasn’t like this at all. So I wasn’t sure I could be myself and still be a successful leader.

Have you felt this way before? That being you wasn’t enough?

Too many times we try to be what others want us to be. But only when we are truly ourselves will we perform at our best.

You can’t expect to find and fulfill a purpose if you’re not true to yourself.

Yes, you will grow and change a lot throughout your leadership journey, but you shouldn’t fundamentally change who you are.

You are you – this is who God made you to be.

To attempt to be something drastically different keeps you from finding true joy in the journey.

Embracing who you are as a leader makes the journey far more enjoyable. And I believe that to be the most effective leader you can be, there must be something different about you.

Why?

So many leaders look and feel the same. They have chosen to align their beliefs and behaviors with others or with their organizations so much so that they have lost virtually all their individuality. In this case, who wants to follow them?

There must be something compelling that makes people—whether its employers, clients, or significant others—pick you.

Being different is attractive and makes you stand out from the crowd.

The trick is: You must be you. If you try to be something you’re not, people will recognize it pretty quickly. And there is nothing less desirable than a fake.

Which begs the question: What makes you, you?

Answer: Know yourself. Dare to be yourself. And be sure others have a clear idea of who you are and what you stand for, too.

That starts by looking within. You need a good sense of your gifts and talents, your values and your passions.

Then you can find your way into that “sweet spot” where all those things come together. That’s the goal, right?

Sort of. But it’s not really just about being in a sweet spot. It’s also about what you do with that opportunity once you’re there.

And just to clarify: No matter where you are in your journey, you are a leader. Leadership is not defined by title, but by your character, actions and words and your influence over those around you.

It’s a privilege to be a leader. You have the chance to impact those around you for good.

I have a core belief – When you have opportunity to do good for others, just do it.

Here are a few ways i try to live that out:

  • Be a leader who releases — Empower, equip and enable others by giving all the good stuff away, sharing with them information, relationships, resources – anything that helps them soar in their careers. Be a door-opener and a catalyst for others.
  • Ignite — We have a program at Mitchell called “Ignite” where we gives our employees time and money to go into the community and do random acts of kindness. It’s incredibly powerful to be a giver, and it changes you for good.
  • Love the whole person — Don’t just treat people transactionally in the workplace. Instead love the whole person. And by that I mean — show genuine interest in others, remember their name, talk to them in the hallway, ask about their family. Your kindness could be the one positive thing that happens to someone that day.

Daring to be yourself, finding your sweet spot, and impacting others are a few of the ways we can make the journey matter at work. I certainly have tried to learn and apply these lessons over the years.

But one of the most powerful lessons I ever learned as a leader was how to make the journey matter in my personal life. Easy to say and hard to do when you are a destination leader.

MAKING THE JOURNEY MATTER IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE

We all know and studies tell us – we can’t work all the time. We have to find the “off” switch and do something other than work. Keep ourselves grounded. Live a whole life.

If you’d asked me a few years ago what my hobbies were, I would have told you that I didn’t have any because I didn’t have any free time. In truth, I didn’t make any time for them – I put as much of my time as possible toward building my company.

I knew that needed to change, if for no other reason than I wanted to be an attractive, engaging person for my husband. He didn’t want to be married to someone who was defined only by her work. And I wanted my children to feel they had a fun and interesting mom who was passionate about life itself, and pursued her personal joys too.

So I invested in myself. I found hobbies – and believe it or not, many of them led me to develop more of a journey mindset.

  • I learned to ride a motorcycle and began riding alongside my husband.
  • I took up running, one of the joys of my youth
  • I returned to photography and spend as much time as possible capturing the things I see along the way
  • I love to cook and entertain in our home
  • I love to travel, and my husband and I travel together as often as possible.

What do you love? Is there something that brings you pure joy just in the doing, but you’ve been putting off spending any time on it, haven’t touch it in years because you didn’t think you had the time or money? How much more would you enjoy the ride of your life with these things in it?

You must invest in yourself, or you won’t have anything left for anyone else. No one wants to be around someone who works all the time, or thinks about work all the time. You have to really SHOW UP.

You want the brownie point for coming to your daughter’s dance recital or your son’s Little League game, but if you’re that parent behind the bleachers on your phone the whole time, you don’t get the full point – maybe just a quarter of a point.

Wouldn’t you rather be on the front row cheering them on where they can see your smiling face and hear your voice?! That’s worth the full point! And they will remember.

People matter the most. Relationships are the greatest gift we have, and we have to invest in them.

I learned I had to make time for those I love – my husband, my kids, my closest circle of friends. They are the ones who have stayed with me through thick and thin. They are the ones who I will be by their side in the darkest and last moments of life. And I hope they will be there for me too.

But you must be intentional about keeping them as fellow journeyers:

  • You can’t drive so far ahead that no one can keep up with you.
  • Sometimes you scrap the map and go with a detour that is better for them than you.
  • And sometimes you pull your bike over to the side of the road, put the kickstand down and look around you – drink in how beautiful where you are today is. Live in the present. Experience this moment, this place. Don’t miss a single moment of the richness of your life!

Traveling the road of life is so much more enjoyable when you can do it with those you love. So be sure to find and keep fellow journeyers.

DESTINATION / JOURNEY MINDSET

As you can tell from this website and my new book, I ride a motorcycle. Learning to ride came at a critical time – when I couldn’t sleep. And it taught me many things:

  • To find greater joy in the journey, for sure, but also…
  • You need a clear destination and the drive to get there – but that’s not enough. The journey matters. It really does!

I’ve learned to be a destination leader with a journey mindset. Someone who is still very focused on reaching her goals, but someone who now understands that the journey of life is meant to be savored and experienced.

Living and leading as a destination leader with a journey mindset has transformed my life.

  • Today I am a far different leader, wife, mom and friend than I was a few years ago when I couldn’t sleep.
  • Adopting a journey mindset was the key.

A RESOURCE FOR YOU

Book

Figuring out the destination/journey challenge was such a game-changer for me that I decided to write a book about it. It’s called Leading Through the Turn. McGraw Hill is my publisher and it launched January 2017.
So no matter what your goals and dreams, what destination you’re striving for, remember: It’s okay to have ambition, but that can’t be all you’re about. You have to live a full life. And when you do, you will have learned how to lead and live with purpose.

Enjoy the ride!
 
 

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