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it ain’t about the journey

January 28, 2014

I have just had a revelation of sorts. I am all about the destination.

des·ti·na·tion  [ dèsti náysh’n ]
1. predetermined end of trip: the place to which somebody or something is going or must go
2. intended or destined end: a purpose for which somebody or something is intended

Journeys make me anxious.

jour·ney  [ júrnee ]
1. trip somewhere: a trip or expedition from one place to another
2. process of development: a gradual passing from one state to another regarded as more advanced, e.g. from innocence to mature awareness

panoram of the coastline

In recent days I have headed out to a couple of destinations that I haven’t been overly enthusiastic about. The most notable being a small coral island that is an hour and half by boat off the coast. Boats and I do not mix, although to be fair it is only my stomach that objects – rapidly and repeatedly.

But it is not just when boats are involved. For days before any notable journey I often exist in a vague cloud of anxiety and concerns over a million “what-ifs?” My mind seeks solutions to problems that do not yet exist and alternative destinations that seem to hold lower or less probable risks. Staying put and avoiding the journey entirely appears to be for me a popular and often-times default choice.

And I know it is supposed to be all about the journey. I do. I have read all the ebooks.

The journey back, the journey home is something I can get into. The further along that journey I am the better. Ticking off the landmarks in reverse, counting down the kilometres or the hours until I arrive back where I started. That sort of journey, the kind when the destination is where I started from, is the kind I love. I have a pretty good idea how long it will take, how it will end and what is waiting for me and so my sense of anticipation and joy rises as the beginning gets closer and closer to being the end.

And I know it is supposed to be all about the journey. I do. I have seen most of the movies and listened to more than a couple of the podcasts.

New Years are the same for me but worse. The end of a calendar year is an arbitrary marker I know, but a marker none-the-less of the beginning of another year of journeying without the prospect of turning around at June 30 and heading back over familiar ground until sometime late on December 31st  you know that even though time has passed you are back where you started on January 1st.

That doesn’t happen because when it is January 1st (again) I still don’t know what the destination is and I know I am going to have to start journeying again anyway and there are a million more what-ifs floating in the vague cloud of anxiety and problem-solution pairings.

Which is where I guess , if I am honest, my default choice of staying put and doing nothing kicks in.

And I know it is supposed to be all about the journey. I do. I am pretty sure that I have even counseled others along the way on the importance of the journey over the destination.

In fact, I know I have.

In the online leadership and teamwork program I coach in, it happens at many levels. The participants expect there to be a new destination each week – somewhere they are headed towards. We provide them with one but we know that whether they get there is far less important than how they get there.

Being a completely virtual program means coordinating eight people and their technology so there are endless combinations of what-ifs that can, and often do, go wrong.  As a coach, with “extra responsibility” it is easy to get caught up in trying to plan for things that have not yet gone wrong, create alternative destinations or, when the inevitable occurs, to say it is all too hard and call it off.

It is at those times that I remind myself that whatever happens, that will be the learning. And what I have come to see is that it is the days when Jane can hear but not be heard, when Peta cannot log onto the platform and Michael can do everything but has a 3-5 second delay … those are the days that are rich with learning. So much so that on the days when everything works, when everyone reaches the destination and gets back home again with time to spare you start to wish that something had gone wrong so that the journey would have been a little longer.

Except of course if there is a boat involved.

But I suppose that even then the learning might just be that sometimes the journey is the price you have to pay to reach the destination.


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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 28, 2014 11:58 am

    ” … whatever happens, that will be the learning”. Precisely.
    I like your candour in this piece, Paul; putting vulnerability on show is a great teaching/learning thing to do.

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