Life is Not a Straight Line

In school, I ran the 100-yard dash on the track team. It was like most races. There was a clear starting line, a finish line, and a lane for each person. I knew what I had to do to reach the destination; run fast and stay in my lane. Measuring progress was simple.

As I have matured and faced more complex and complicated challenges, I realize much of life is not a straight line. Life is more like a maze with multiple routes to the end. Recently, I heard a powerful statement by C.S. Lewis that illuminates this idea. “Progress is not simply moving forward. It is moving closer to the desired destination.” This statement highlights some important leadership lessons.

Know the Destination

Before beginning the journey, have a good understanding of where you are going and why you are going. For example, if you are developing a new service, clearly define the new service and why it is valuable.

There is More Than One Path

Multiple-route maze challenges are difficult because there is not one route to the destination and there are unknown barriers along the way. Even though the paths are numerous and the hindrances will come, it is still important to create a starting plan with the hope of the most direct path. But, do not be so committed to the plan that it keeps you from changing directions when needed.

Start Over When Needed

I recall a friend that went about 100 miles away from her destination after missing a turnoff. She was moving forward the entire time. However, she was not in tune to the signals that were saying “You’re going the wrong direction!” I am convinced there are always signals that tell us we are not moving closer to the destination. It is important to keep alert to signals, not get too entrenched in one plan, and go back and start down another path when needed.

“Enjoy the journey” is a common phrase that is used to help us stay motivated to reach a goal when the trip is long and full of unexpected challenges. Also, knowing the destination, recognizing there is more than one path, and starting over when needed, will help us get closer to our desired journey’s end.