Success Depends on Defining Your End Goal

Black and white.
Substance over form.
Just win, baby.

As a leader of a commercial cleaning company and father of five children, I struggle with the ‘Winning is the Only Thing’ mentality. While I understand there has to be a reason we’re coming together, what about the journey? Isn’t that another thing to consider? What if you told a soccer team to go out on the field and score, but the field had no goal posts? What would they do? How would you direct them? When would we stop running and kicking the ball? That’s where the results come in. You can play the game, but you need to know what you’re playing for. You need to know how to score the points so that eventually you can get the win.

I believe people fail to focus on results when the mission is not clear, or at least clearly defined. For example, if I only tell my family we’re going on vacation, some might pack for the mountains. Others might pack for the beach. Two different destinations and two very different climates, but both are reasonable assumptions for a vacation. Yet how mad is my wife going to be when I have two kids wearing bathing suits and scuba gear, while the rest are wearing ski jackets and goggles as we pull up to the Grand Canyon to go hiking? No one brought hiking boots. Telling my family where we were going to end up would have been helpful in the planning and packing process. If everyone knew we were going hiking, we’d all be prepared to celebrate reaching the top of some big rock formation. That’s where focusing on results is important. We need to know where we are going so we can plan on how we will get there.

Focusing a team on results—whether at work or your family–means the leaders must be clear on what the final result will look like. That’s the ‘black and white,’ the ‘substance over form.’ That is the just win. And while the final results are shiny and wonderful and exciting, we still need to get there. Now, however, we at least have a clear picture of what it will look like when we do.

The journey, however, is not black and white, substance over form–and you can’t just win if the game isn’t over. Some people have questioned me about my approach to things because they saw me as a black and white type guy. I think the part that they’re missing is that I am that black and white type guy on the destination, but not so much on the journey. The journey is where I relax and enjoy the process. In fact, I love being a student of the journey. That’s where all the magic happens–where everyone problem-solves and figures out what it will take to make it work, and how to get there. I love to watch everyone figure it out as things are tried, fail and new ideas spring up to be tried in place of the failed ones. And somehow we make it there. And while it seems like a mystery how we made it, it is clear in the end. The journey was focused on the end result and we made it what it needed to be. Everybody clear on that?

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