/What If There Is No Destination?

What If There Is No Destination?

There is a prevailing narrative that tends to govern some people’s lives and fuel their passion for forward progress. The narrative is that life is a journey and every day you are moving closer and closer to your destination. Move forward, never backward, and never stand still. Keep going until you reach your destination!

Instead of outright dismantling that narrative, a narrative that has proven to be very inspirational for some people, I’d like to challenge you to consider an alternative. What if there is no destination? Or what if there is a destination, but you have no idea where it is? How do you know you are moving towards it? How do you know you’re moving in the right direction? If it doesn’t exist, How do you know if all of your efforts, determination, and tenacity are worth it?

If there is a destination; how do you when you’ve arrived?

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Change in perspective

I’d like to offer a paradigm shift. Instead of imagining yourself as a quixotic explorer setting sail on a voyage with promises of riches and adventure; what if the journey itself is the reward, not the destination?

What if the pot of gold isn’t at the end of the rainbow? What if it is scattered, coin by coin along the way?

Although every race has a beginning and end, what if every step that is taken and every mile completed along the way is a cause for celebration? How will your journey be impacted by shifting your focus from how far you have to go, to how far you’ve come and the fact that you are still moving?

My personal experience

Paying attention to the gold

I’ve traveled quite a bit in my life. I’ve traveled by foot, car, trains, plans and even ships the size of small cities. No matter how far I’ve traveled, one thing has always remained true: the arrival at my destination did not mark the end of my journey. As a matter of fact, I can remember embarking on a Navy ship in Southern California on the way to the Persian Gulf, although we set a course to the eastern coast of Kuwait, we stopped at ports along the way. So, in essence, when the ship left the Navy base in San Diego, it wasn’t heading to Kuwait. Nope, our destination was the plush islands of Hawaii.

When we left Hawaii, we charted a course through Southeast Asia to the Philippines. From the Philippines we stopped in Singapore, a city boasting of culture and architectural wonders, then we steamed south to a small coastal city called Townsville in Australia, swung by the crystal blue waters of the Maldives and docked in the tiny but picturesque island of Seychelles off the Eastern Coast of Africa.

From Seychelles, we took a northern route through the Gulf of Oman to the wealthy city of Dubai in the UAE. We sat in Dubai for two days before pulling off and docking in the Kingdom of Bahrain. As the ship left Bahrain, our Captain informed us that we would be dropping anchor 200 nautical miles from the Kuwaiti shore. We had reached our destination, but not quite. Those of us who were embarked on the ship packed our gear and rode small boats into Kuwait and then flew helicopters and drove jeeps and tanks into Iraq.

After our purpose was served, we boarded the ship again, and our journey continued back to San Diego. Although I was filled with anticipation and excitement to step foot on continents that I had only read about or seen on maps, there were nights I would stand on the deck of the giant ship and be in awe of how it was dwarfed by the night sky and the vastness of the waters it sat upon. As the sun rose in the east, a majestic horizon greeted me and dolphins raced our ship to show their aquatic supremacy.

I developed deep and meaningful relationships with people aboard the ship as we carried out our daily duties. I learned new things and discovered new passions as our ship sliced through the ocean waters. Of course, there were difficult times and there were misunderstandings and there were even moments that caused us all to collectively grieve and reflect. But we enjoyed and appreciated the journey.

Had I only been focused on Iraq, or even one of the ports along the way to Iraq, then I would have missed so much. I would have squandered opportunities to discover new talents and develop existing ones.

Shift your focus on the journey

It is tempting to use your goals as destinations as you travel through life. However, I caution you to not allow your focus to remain solely on successfully completing your goals. Take time to experience the immense pleasure and growth that your endeavor will provide you.

By appreciating the journey, you transform your perception of failure. Each attempt at accomplishing your goals yields valuable information and opportunity.

During a commencement speech at Harvard, the famous author who imagined the incredible world of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling recounted how her perceived failures forced her greatest work out of her.

Steve Jobs was infamously fired from the company he started and has been quoted as saying that it was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. Albert Einstein, the pioneer of the Theory of Relativity, whose name is now synonymous with genius once said, “Success is failure in progress.”

These and countless others who have experienced failures on their incredibly successful journeys understood that every step, every action, every movement is an opportunity. They didn’t stop at one book about young wizards. They didn’t stop at one personal computer. And they didn’t stop at the discovery that mass and energy are equivalent and transmutable.

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