In our most important pursuits, can we focus on getting what we want while enjoying the process and the journey at the same time?
I want to begin with a story. This one is a personal favorite.
A merchant sent his son to learn the Secret of Happiness from the wisest of men. The young man wandered through the desert for forty days until he reached a beautiful castle at the top of a mountain. There lived the sage that the young man was looking for.
However, instead of finding a holy man, our hero entered a room and saw a great deal of activity; merchants coming and going, people chatting in the corners, a small orchestra playing sweet melodies, and there was a table laden with the most delectable dishes of that part of the world.
The wise man talked to everybody, and the young man had to wait for two hours until it was time for his audience.
The Sage listened attentively to the reason for the boy’s visit, but told him that at that moment he did not have the time to explain to him the Secret of Happiness.
He suggested that the young man take a stroll around his palace and come back in two hours’ time.
“However, I want to ask you a favor,” he added, handling the boy a teaspoon, in which he poured two drops of oil. “While you walk, carry this spoon and don’t let the oil spill.”
The young man began to climb up and down the palace staircases, always keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. At the end of two hours he returned to the presence of the wise man.
“So,” asked the sage, “did you see the Persian tapestries hanging in my dining room? Did you see the garden that the Master of Gardeners took ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”
Embarrassed, the young man confessed that he had seen nothing. His only concern was not to spill the drops of oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.
“So, go back and see the wonders of my world,” said the wise man. “You can’t trust a man if you don’t know his house.”
Now more at ease, the young man took the spoon and strolled again through the palace, this time paying attention to all the works of art that hung from the ceiling and walls.
He saw the gardens, the mountains all around the palace, the delicacy of the flowers, the taste with which each work of art was placed in its niche. Returning to the sage, he reported in detail all that he had seen.
“But where are the two drops of oil that I entrusted to you?” asked the sage.
Looking down at the spoon, the young man realized that he had spilled the oil.
“Well, that is the only advice I have to give you,” said the sage of sages.
“The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.”
The big message in this little story challenges us to consider this: The trick in life is to savor and appreciate the beauty all around us in the journey while staying focused on track toward the destination (goal).
Or in short, “Enjoy the journey while hitting all our targets.”
As the year reaches its climax and draws to a close in about two months’ time, my coaching clients are running (they call it the “Final Sprint”) and have a single focus in mind: to hit their annual targets.
At the end of the year, results is what ultimately determine a win for my clients – the end goal. At the same time, I’ve been encouraging them on enjoying the process goals.
Here are 4 things to be mindful of:
Enjoy the Learning
I’m a strong advocate of journaling, for coaches and many of my clients. A journal is useful to record down our reflections and precious lessons.
At the end of the day/week/month, ponder on some of these questions and write down your thoughts:
“What has been working well for me?”
“What hasn’t been working well?”
“What did I do well?”
“What did I not do so well?”
“How have I been showing my courage?”
“How have I been operating from my strengths/sweet spot?”
“What are some of my proudest accomplishments so far?”
“What insights can I gain from my biggest failures/mistakes?”
“What do I feel when….?”
“What are some of the biggest lessons in my evolving journey so far?”
“How can I do better?”
“How can I become better?”
“What are the things I can let go of?”
Enjoy the Relationships
We meet many people along our path: friends, partners, clients, teachers, mentors, rivals and others.
Life and work are interesting and meaningful because of the relationships that are made, alliances that are forged and love that are shared along the way. People make our world colorful.
Here are some of the questions to be reflected around people:
“Who can I serve?”
“Who has been my greatest supporter and cheerleader?”
“What have I learnt from serving my clients?”
“What have I learnt from my teachers, mentors, coaches?”
“If my rivals and enemies are my teachers, what are the biggest lessons I’ve gained from them?”
“How can I make a bigger difference to the world around me?”
“What stories do we want to create as a team/family?”
“How can I enjoy more while serving in bigger ways?”
“How can I laugh more with those around me?”
“How can I love more?”
Enjoy Your Personal Growth
“Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.” ~ Jim Rohn
Ultimately, it is not what you get but who you become which is of the greatest value.
One of the greatest lessons in the domain of personal development I’ve learned was from Jim Rohn. During his early goal-setting days, his mentor Earl Shoaff suggested a goal to him: to earn a Million dollars. And he was about to tell Jim the reason for setting that goal.
Jim thought that the Million dollar goal was an excellent idea and no reason was needed to justify it. After all, the word “millionaire” rings like music in his ears. Earl checked his excitement and explained that the most important reason for setting big goals is not really about the money, but to entice him to become the person to achieve them in the process.
“The most important question to ask on the job is not “What am I getting?” The most important question to ask on the job is “What am I becoming?”” ~ Jim Rohn
It is a wonderful idea to constantly reflect on who you are becoming in the process of getting what you want.
Enjoy the Miracle of Life
I constantly marvel at life, nature, man and God.
These days, I tend to observe and appreciate in awe, the Invisible Energy and Intelligence behind life. I see that I’m just a small player in this vast universe – the intricate beautiful order of things, so big and awesome beyond my limited understanding.
Many a time, I planned my life a certain way but unexpected events overtook me with beautiful surprise. Synchronicity do happen, in ways that are better than what I can think or plan. Providence smiles at me, beckon me to take the path I’ve yet to consider.
Life is a mystery.
Yes, I’m a coach, strategist and creator of my future. Yet, I also recognize the Author and Finisher of my life at work. Ultimately, I’m not the one in control (Thank Goodness!). I can surrender and rest full well knowing I don’t have to be in control. There is a bigger Intelligence beyond my sight and intellect.
Therefore, I am free to play. I can play full out, knowing that no matter what the outcome is, I am alright. It is like playing with the house’s money (will write more on that in a future post).
Conclusion – Enjoy The Journey
As I look back in my own life, some of my biggest regrets in getting what I want is not in failing to get them, but in failing to slow down to savor the intricate process and enjoy the people around me. Limited by my rigid tunnel vision, I sometimes fail to laugh and love more.
I’m still learning. I’m still changing. My life is a work in progress.
Likewise for you, in the pursuit of getting what you want, I encourage you to enjoy the journey.
Enjoy the learning process and all the valuable lessons.
Enjoy the relationships with the people you meet.
Enjoy your own personal growth and transformation.
Enjoy the miracle and beauty of life, the mystery of it all.