The End Result is Often Not as Important as the Journey

Posted on August 31, 2013 by


For the most part, it’s been argued that the point is that you are there (where ever that is) regardless of how you got there. Well, sometimes, how you got there is just as, if not more important. Sometimes the value of the journey is worth sacrificing (albeit a controllable one) the outcome.

In the process of getting there, if you gain insight – you learn new things, you learn better ways of doing things, or you learn how NOT to do things, then you have gained a new “tool for your tool box” regardless of the outcome. It’s called taking risks (post-cost/benefit analysis) and learning from your success and/or mistakes.

Some leaders will say nothing their teams do could shut the company down or cause it to go out of business, particularly if it’s a huge company.  Leaders will do so because they would rather their people take the initiative to make decisions rather than constantly look for approval. The prevailing thought is, “If you make a mistake, learn from it and come up with a better plan for the next time. If you keep making the same mistake over and over again, that’s when we might want to start looking for the white chalk and caution tape.” :0)

That doesn’t mean that you let them navigate the path alone. You want to hear the rationale behind the decision and the anticipated outcome. You also want to know what the contingency plan is…just in case. If you feel it is a smart or well thought out decision, encourage them to move forward. If you disagree, share your thoughts and concerns, then judging by the collateral damage that may result (and whether you think it’s a lesson worth learning the hard way), either let them proceed, or call an audible and explain the reason so that they can learn from it.

Ok, so you’ve had your brilliant idea and decided how to get there (where ever there is). Once you have gotten there, look back on the process. Ask yourself 3 quesitons –

  1. what worked well,
  2. what didn’t go so well, and
  3. what can I do the next time so that this does or doesn’t happen again.

In answering those simple questions, you are processing your activity and finding the “teachable moment(s)”.

In all seriousness, if you can find that you genuinely learned something from the experience, the journey was worth it, no matter how tattered and torn you are at the end. Just remember to blow the smoke off any places that are still burning, patch up your wounds, knock the dust off and keep it moving.