The Journey Is the Destination

I’ve written before about how the re-branding of Clear and Open challenged me to grow, and the process continues. It’s been a process of self-discovery and realization that is finally more harvest than toil. You may have noticed the tone of my writing changed. This was not an accident, it’s the result of realizing that other people are not me. A stunning realization, right?

I’ve written mostly the way I like to read: fairly abstract, principle-based arguments that make logical cases as concisely as possible. I know, I’m weird—that’s come up a time or two lately. If this kind of writing were popular, then Aristotle would have been on the best-seller list for 2300 years. I’ve done the thing that most business people do: marketing to yourself. This is a form of what psychology calls projection: putting your stuff onto someone else. It’s completely normal, human, and many-layered. It’s also the root of many problems.

Now, in my case, I “know” a ton about projection, and marketing to oneself. I’ve helped many clients knock it off with that stuff.

I also had a long list of clever reasons (read: excuses) why it was okay for me to write however the hell I wanted, and it turned out they were mostly bullshit, as my marketing director has been politely but firmly telling me. But it all came to a head last week in one moment. You’re going to laugh at how the breakthrough happened.

I’m a little embarrassed to share it.

I stumbled across a website with a very clever “What Dungeons and Dragons Character Am I?” quiz. I played D & D as a kid, so gave it a try.  It turned out to be remarkably well-crafted and profound. After you answer 129 (!) questions it tells you, for example, that you’re a “Lawful Good Elf Bard” or a “Chaotic Evil Dwarf Barbarian.”

When the survey told me I was a neutral monk (along with only 4% of survey takers), I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been. I fancied myself more of a Wizard or someone who combined magic and combat like a Paladin.

This monk result rocked my world, as it somehow pulled together clues, insights, and feedback I’ve gotten my entire life. I guess I was finally ready to look in the mirror more deeply. Suddenly, I saw myriad ways I’ve been suffering by projecting: feeling misunderstood, alone, like a stranger in a strange land, depressed, etc.

But when I accept myself as a monk, all of these things dissolve. Monks are esoteric, solitary, complex people.

The point is this: whatever project you’re working on, pay attention to the journey as much as the destination. I’ve led a thousand people through the process of distilling a vision, creating an org chart, budgeting, etc. All of them started with the notion that it was all about achieving the end result, and almost everyone learned differently.

Think of Frodo in the Lord of the Rings. The destination is the simple act of tossing a ring into a volcano, but the journey changes him forever, in ways that were completely unpredictable. He finds strength in himself he never knew he had. He faces ugliness in himself he didn’t know was there. And in the end, as much as he thought he longed for the simple life of the shire, he travels with the elves to the Undying Lands, a dramatic symbol of transcending the earthly comforts of his former personality.

In this way, the journey is the destination. This is why buying immaculately written job descriptions from a consultant is not going to change your business—it circumvents the real work. Because the problem is not missing job descriptions. The problem has something to do with you.

The challenge for me has been meeting people where they are. I tend to assume everyone is a monk like I am: relentlessly curious, fascinated by metaphysics, and preferring meditation to any amount of small talk. Funny, right?

Paradoxically, it’s through the radical and deep acceptance of who you are that your projections on others dissolve. When you allow yourself to be who you are, you automatically allow others to do the same. [Click to Tweet]

All of this is just another way of saying, “Look within.” As I spoke about before, ask yourself the question, “What do you think Life is trying to teach you through the challenges you’re facing?” If you have this in the back of your mind, you’ll be far more open to its lessons. Learn the lessons and you’ll be far more likely to be successful.

Need help getting this question answered? Become a Clear and Open member and get direct help from myself and a group of your peers. You don’t have go it alone.

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