Leadership Lessons: Enjoy the Journey
I thought it was a good time to take some of my own advice and review this year with 2020 hindsight. We all know it's been an extraordinary year. We all came into 2020 with 2020 Vision. As with any new year there were expectations of what we would do, what we wouldn't do, and what the year was going to look like. The overused quote from Mike Tyson that “everyone has a plan until they get a punch in the face”, is so true for 2020. I want to take a look at the “lockdown leadership lessons” that I've learned or at least have had reinforced, with 2020 hindsight.
The first one for me has been to “enjoy the journey”. Greg Anderson, the American author, said “Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” It's such a simple concept, yet worth contemplating if you're like me; very focused on the outcomes, the destination, and the achievements.
If we are solely or largely focused on the destination, rather than the journey, we have this limited and often intermittent experience of satisfaction. Often a destination only focus, is accompanied by a high-performance mindset. Whilst achieving goals and asking ourselves to perform at a high level, are not bad things, they can become detrimental. When taken to extreme, they become a source of stress and a dangerous cycle; of never being satisfied. In a worst-case scenario, we can burn out or hit a wall.
If we get this right, where we learn to enjoy the journey, not just the achievements in the outcomes, then we build richer and deeper relationships, have a clearer perspective, and paradoxically, achieve better outcomes.
Time is a precious commodity in that it's limited, although we all have the same amount. Obviously, what we do with the time we have, has a great bearing on everything we do. Sometimes in a desire to maximise potential, and use time wisely, we become very focused on achievements and outcomes. It's like being on a train and only focused on the next station, and the next station, and the next station. Yet we miss something if we're only focused on the destination. We miss the interaction with the passengers around us. The experience of looking out the window, being in the moment, and experiencing the beauty around us. A hurried busyness in a desire for productivity can manifest in a destination mindset rather than being mindful of the present.
It is a mindset. To enjoy the journey, we need to be mindful of the present.; to be available to those around us and mindful of the details in the moment. It is counter intuitive to those of us who value high performance. The paradox is, if we train ourselves to think, then act, we get we get a better outcome. Finding ways to remind ourselves to stop, pause and think go a long way to helping us enjoy the journey. Sometimes it's as simple as creating space in our diaries. Maybe it's scheduling in connection with those who are important to us. Perhaps it's a simple as regularly meeting with a few friends, to hold each other accountable for a whole of life experience.
There's definitely power in the pause. Find whitespace in each day, in each week, every month, and annually. It’s not only a ‘nice to have’, it's essential to a sustainable, productive life. It's not selfish to have downtime; we do need to look after ourselves, and enjoy the joy in the journey. As John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.”
Even in the midst of the craziness of 2020 and with 2020 hindsight I've learned this year, the importance of enjoying the journey.