The Parable of the Travelers
Eager to get going on their adventure, four travelers tossed their bags into the trunk and jumped in the car.
One suggested taking a highway that would be faster. Another proposed taking the side road so they could see the scenery. They bickered a bit, finally deciding to stop and stay overnight at a nearby motel, but in the morning they were still unsure which road to take.
“I’m out of clean clothes,” declared one. The others, who had each packed for a week, were surprised. One had packed for the beach, expecting they would arrive in a day and spend the rest of the time relaxing. One had packed for a hike, thinking they would find spots along the way and one had left a lot of space in the suitcase, expecting to spend time shopping along the way.
Seems they had never taken the time to discuss where they wanted to go and what they expected to do along the way. They had just started driving.
Far-fetched? Unfortunately, this is the reality in many organizations today. A lot of time is spent traveling without a clear picture of the destination or what is to be accomplished along the way. No one has defined what success means.
If you know where you want to end up, you can get there without a plan. You may take a few wrong turns, it may take longer, or cost more than you had hoped, but you will probably be able to get there. Your passenger might say “turn around, we just drove past the exit”…
It will be much better to decide at the outset if the highway or the scenic route is the right choice. Without a clear definition of success, you may end up somewhere you did not want to be or miss something you wanted to see and do.
Inevitably, our failure to take time to define the successful outcome causes problems. Perhaps it occurs when our team is unmotivated, wondering why they are doing the work. Or our children are older and we realize that we did not spend as much time with them as we would have liked. Perhaps it is at life’s end when, although we can buy anything we like, we look back and feel unsuccessful.
Take the time to clarify what a successful journey means to you. Success is about more than money and critical acclaim. Help everyone understand where they are going, what to pack, and what to expect along the way. Prepare yourself to understand when it is time to stay on the highway and when it is time to get off.