Where are you going? You may ask, “What?” The question bears repeating, where are you going? Where are you going in your personal life? As the leader, where are you going in your business?
As I was thinking about those questions, I just could not get out of my mind of a story that I have told before. And that is…
A few years ago, a friend shared a story he heard Billy Graham tell as the keynote speaker honoring the delegates to the United Nations in New York:
“Being here in New York reminds me of a story about Albert Einstein. Some years ago the great thinker was on a train bound for New York City.
As the ticket taker came walking through the car, Einstein reached into his pocket to retrieve his ticket, but he could not find it. He frantically searched his coat pockets, turned his pants pockets inside out, but still he could not produce the ticket.
The ticket taker said, ‘Don’t worry, Mr. Einstein, we all know who you are. Forget about it.’ About twenty minutes later, the ticket taker came back through the car, and by this time Einstein was on the floor searching everywhere for the lost ticket.
Again ticket taker tried to reassure Einstein by saying, ‘I told you not to worry about the lost ticket. We trust that you purchased one, and that’s good enough for us.’
Einstein looked up at the railroad employee and said, ‘Young man, this isn’t a matter of trust but of direction. I need to find the ticket because I forgot where I’m going.’”
Do you know where you are going? Are you headed toward your destination? Successful people know where they are going. And they have a plan for getting there.
“Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal, and I will give you a stock clerk.”
– J.C. Penney
My good friend and mentor, Jim Lundy, would often say:
If you don’t know where you are going
…any path will get you there,
…but you won’t realize if you’re lost,
…you won’t know what time you’ll arrive,
…you won’t know the dimensions of your challenge,
…others won’t understand how they could help,
…and since you could pass right by without recognizing it,
…you won’t get the satisfaction of having arrived!
I learned early in life that it was important for me to pause, reflect, and plan so I knew where I was going.
But I also learned that it was even more important to clarify the vision (goal) – the direction in my personal life and in the workplace for the entire team so we would go down the right road together.
Likewise in your personal life and with your workplace team, you can reach your destination much sooner by avoiding an ambiguous vision.
An Ambiguous Vision
Consider the following example to illustrate the adverse effects of an ambiguous vision.
Imagine that you are at a family reunion picnic, and you decide to try your hand at a game of archery. You select your bow and receive as many arrows as you wish. And when you step up to the line, you noticed there is no target in sight.
Then someone who is overseeing the game says, “Okay, select an arrow, draw your bow and shoot!”
What do you do next? Do you just stand there waiting for further instructions? With no defined target, I bet you would hesitate to draw your bow.
But, let’s say you shoot one arrow just to see what would happen. If you shoot, you would learn what it feels like when you do not know where the target is.
Without the feedback of seeing how close you came to the target, you could not adjust your aim in order to hit closer to the bull’s eye. Because there is no bull’s eye!
You would have no way of knowing if you even came close to hitting the target. In other words, you could not gauge your level of success.
Insight: An ambiguous vision in your life and in the workplace without adequate feedback lead to confusion and frustration.
Achievement and recognition are two of the best motivators. And for our personal life and as leaders, we should provide ourselves as well as our employees with a chance to seek and achieve fulfillment in ours and their endeavors.
But first, the vision of where you are going must be clearly defined, understood, and accepted as reasonable to be fully beneficial.
Your personal life and your workplace employees need a vision for the future so actions can be corrected when targets are missed, and so you and they can feel the deserved satisfaction when targets are hit.
You and they also need a clear path for where you and they are going.
Einstein is best known for his ground breaking work in physics. But his reaction to a lost train ticket reflected an even more fundamental truth: knowing your destination is of utmost importance. We can apply the same truth to our life and leadership.
Where does your ticket say you are going? Do you have a clearly defined vision in your life and in your workplace? Please send to me your comments <here> and share this blog post with a family, friend, and co-worker.