Do You Know Where You’re Going?

It has been a while since I last wrote something on my blog. When I write, I really do not think of the readers. I write because it’s an expression of me. Some people paint, some others play an instrument, and some read. I write. Yes, I like music and I like reading, but the best way for me to express my deepest thoughts is writing. For me it is a journey within myself and throughout life and, I believe, towards eternities. In fact, I am most interested in the journey and its destination. There is an African proverb that says “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” As I reflect upon the meaning of this proverb, I see two very important concepts unfold in my mind. The first is about the journey and its temporal and special connotations. The second is the modality of the journey and its effect on its final outcome. However, the more I think about journeys the more I realize the importance of destinations. In fact, in the end, it’s all about the destination. The African proverb I mentioned shows that individual effort is critical to get things done, but that through teamwork, things can be done with greater results. Do you remember the principle of Synergy taught by Stephen Covey? But if we don’t know where we are going, does it really matter how?

Process, planning and thoughtful design are extremely important to get the right results, and in a society obsessed by immediate results, gain and gratification, we have done very little about process because we are constantly told that everything is a priority. In fact, we are inundated by priorities to the point that we have forgotten the destination. In his book ‘The Present’, Dr. Spencer Johnson, the author of ‘The One Minute Manager’ and ‘Who Moved my Cheese?’ writes a beautiful story about the journey of life. In his book, he plays with the double meaning of the word ‘present’ beginning with the offer of a gift without disclosing the nature of it. This present is something that can change the lives of people and make them happier in life and more effective in the things they do. Through the advice of an old wise man, the protagonist of the story, the young man who is searching for meaning and happiness in life, understands that the gift is the present, or the moment we live now. He discovers that many people linger in the past too much, which stops them from being happy. They recriminate of how they would have done things better if…Others continue to dream of a better future but they stop at dreaming. Finally, the young man, with the help of the old wise man, finds the key to happiness and the real meaning of the gift and he is ready to share it with others. He writes:

“Be in the Present.  When you want to be happier and more effective, focus on what is right now. Respond to what is important today.

Learn from the Past. When you want to make the Present better than the Past, look at what happened in the Past. Learn something valuable from it. Do things differently today.

Help create the Future. When you want to make the Future better than the Present, imagine what a wonderful Future would look like. Make a realistic plan. Do something today to help it happen.

Realize your Purpose. Explore ways to make your work and life more meaningful.“

The story in Dr. Johnson`s book, in reality is a story about change. I realize that in my life I have changed much and had to. Only through a full acceptance of change, I was able to leave my country and culture and start a new life in a new country and culture. Change has been my driver all my life, and a good companion, I must say. I was recently reading a talk by Todd Christofferson, a lawyer by career and a religious leader by vocation, who was talking about the religious principle of repentance. A good understanding of such a principle, is a good understanding of the principle of change and how good it is for all of us. He says: “The invitation to repent [substitute the word repent with change] is an expression of love…if we don’t invite others to change [Christofferson used exactly this word] or if we do not demand repentance [again you could use the word change] of ourselves, we fail in a fundamental duty we owe to one another and to ourselves. A permissive parent, an indulgent friend, a fearful church leader [or community leader or industry leader or leader in general, I’d say] are, in reality more concerned about themselves than the welfare and happiness of those they could help. Yes the call to repentance [change] is at times regarded as intolerant or offensive and may even be resented but…it is in reality guided by genuine caring.” Furthermore, he says: “Repentance means striving to change…real change may require repeated attempts, but there is something refining and holy in such striving.”

I can attest to that statement by Todd Christofferson. I know for a fact that life is not easy and changes continually. But I also know what my direction is and that each individual can discover his or hers. It will be different than mine but it will be worth as much if no more.

I wish to conclude with a quote by George Bernard Shaw: “This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one…I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

And you, do you know where you are going?



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