Along the journey to purpose, stop to smell the jackalope.

Like the majority of parents out there, I was unable to escape that question that invariably came somewhere in the middle of a long family road trip. The five of us packed into some variety of family truckster.* Off to find adventure. “Are we there yet?”

The question lingers

My kids are grown now. And family road trips are just a distant memory. Yet, I can’t seem to escape that question. It no longer comes from a wee voice in the way, way back as we careen down some endless stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere.

Now it’s the query of impatient leadership team members in the middle of a different kind of journey. A journey to discover a Big Audacious Meaning. Oh, it may not be in those exact words of that wee voice. But the question is the same. He or she just wants to know if we have gotten to the answer yet.

Enjoy the ride

First of all, it’s like I used to tell my kids.

“You’ll know it when we get there.”

If we’re rolling down the highway at 60 miles per hour, it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re not there yet. The same goes for you, leadership team member. You don’t get to the Big Audacious Meaning in the middle of the process. Who would design a process like that? What would you do with that entire second half of the process if you designed it to get to the answer halfway through? I think you see where I’m going with this.

Here’s the real kicker about obsessing over the destination.You’re going to miss the journey. You’re going to miss things like the world’s largest concrete gnome (it’s in Ames, Iowa in case you were wondering.) The trip itself can be transformative. This is especially true when you undertake a journey to purpose. When I’ve taken organizations on this adventure, the value of the trip alone has become readily apparent. For example, I’ve found that the journey gives you the unique opportunity to create a certain esprit de corps. It gets people excited, feeling like they are helping on this road to discovery. I wrote about this effect recently:

By sharing discoveries and soliciting their feedback, we create so many benefits. We help everyone quickly understand the importance of the effort. We create a sense that we are discovering this together, building collaboration. We help people feel like their voice counts. And more. All of this helps speed adoption. Which means the organization can start to see the purpose being put into action immediately. And start to see the rewards.

The trip isn’t always easy. But I haven’t been on a journey to purpose yet that hasn’t been a rewarding expedition. Yes, there will be bumps, and swerves, and the occasional feeling of being lost. But there will also be some pretty awesome discoveries that will leave you speechless - like stumbling across the world’s largest jackalope (Douglas, Wyoming). That’s part of the ride. The adventure. Who would want to miss that?

*Tip o’ the cap to National Lampoon’s Vacation.