“How do I get an ‘A’?” This was a very common question while I was getting my undergraduate degree. It wasn’t until my last semester when a very wise professor made this profound statement, “Don’t worry about the grade! Focus on learning the material and the grade will come.” It was a real world example of the saying that the joy is in the journey. We were all so focused on results, that we forgot we were there to actually learn something.That experience is not much different than what I have experienced in the business world. “Show me the money!” A quote from a popular movie depicts our society. How can we as leaders manage to results but balance that with the knowledge that as we lead we are both being made better leaders and mentoring those around us to be leaders and better performers?
Leaders have to both understand and demonstrate that both work and life are a process and that “arrival” rarely happens, but when it does, it is not normally as fulfilling as the journey was to get there. This is not popular in our results oriented world but as our business culture transitions from producing to innovating, the journey becomes as significant as the result because of what other ideas and innovations spawn from the journey. Did Apple really intend to make the iPod, or was it an offshoot of another idea they were marching to? What if they were so focused on delivering the original idea that they did not recognize this “offshoot” idea?” Would the music industry be where it is today?
Hopefully my point is clear, the journey is significant! Find ways in your workplace, or even at home with your family, to focus on gleaning things from the process. Review what you are doing relative to the goal, because that was the original worthwhile idea, but be open minded to what you are learning along the way. As leaders it is important to build environments that allow for this process. Do what any good leader would do, get your best players around you and come up with a process to review what you are doing, not just where you are going. Tell them that the grade is important, but so is what we are doing and how we are being made along the way.