There is No Destination
The inspiration for this week’s post comes from a great quote that I saw on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. It’s from Marie Forleo, a life coach and motivational speaker.
I started following her on Twitter a few months ago, after catching an interview that she’d done with Brené Brown, about Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness.
Here’s my verbatim recollection of her Tweet:
There is no destination.
It’s ALL journey. All. Of. It.
Wow, I’ve been a big fan of the whole “life is a journey” mentality for a while, but I’d never heard anyone say it so clearly and emphatically.
Family Business Versions
It’s pretty easy to get seduced by “destinations” in life, and family businesses are no strangers to this phenomenon.
“If we can just get to $X,000,000 in sales, then we will have made it. “ (Where X can be 1, 10, 100…)
Another good one is “I can’t wait to take over from Dad as President.”
Okay, a nice goal to have, but not really a great destination in and of itself, as that’s when the real work begins.
(I can think of a prominent example of someone wanting to become President, but then being less than thrilled with actually having to do the job, but alas, I try to avoid discussing politics in this space.)
Interim Stopping Points
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against setting goals, such as annual sales figures, or promotions to key positions.
Studies show that people who don’t write down their goals are much less likely to achieve them, and that makes perfect sense.
In fact, setting goals for your department, team, or the whole company, is also something that everyone should be doing, but you want to make sure that those are simply seen as interim stopping points along the way.
Hit the goal, savour it, celebrate it, and then move on to the next goal. Remember: It is not a destination.
Enjoy the Ride
For me, the biggest takeaway here is that we are always on our way somewhere, so we may as well enjoy it.
In fact, if we are NOT enjoying it, we should really consider finding another journey to take.
Find a journey that you will enjoy.
There are plenty of people who are doing things that they don’t enjoy, and guess what, some of them even work in their own family’s business.
Many of those are likely deluding themselves into thinking that things will magically improve, you know, once they reach the “destination”.
If you believe that, I invite you to re-read the title of this blog post.
We all have our own perspective on this subject and I’d like to share mine. No, this won’t be a “just do what I did” story because that isn’t generally how I roll.
Actually, it’s more of a “don’t do what I did” lesson, that I hope some people will benefit from.
And by the end of this, I may even partially contradict my major premise here, but here goes.
Early Liquidity Event
In 1991, with a freshly minted MBA degree in my pocket, I returned to our family business, expecting to be groomed to eventually take over.
This had been Dad’s plan since my birth. Notice I did not say it was MY plan.
Instead, within 6 months of my return, we (he) sold the operations of the company, and we went from 250 employees to 4, and eventually 3.
I then spent the following 2 decades running our small family office, doing what needed to be done.
No Destination, Not Even a Journey
I wasn’t until 2013 that I finally had my calling, to do the family business work that now drives me in everything I do.
For over 20 years, I did what I thought I was supposed to do, acting as the “dutiful son”.
I know other rising generation family members who are following similar paths, and while it is a path, if it isn’t a journey that you enjoy, it doesn’t make for much of an enjoyable career.
Everyone deserves an opportunity to find and do something that drives them to be able to enjoy the journey of life.
So glad I found mine, better late than never!
What’s yours? What’s in your way?