Monday, April 14, 2014

Live the journey

I am not sure how old I was at that time, maybe 10 or 12 years old, but I very distinctly remember the reason I first wanted to grow my hair out. I wanted to know the feeling of having my braid fall over my shoulder. That’s it. That was the reason. That was my goal. Braid falling over my shoulder. The feeling. I know it is a weird goal and a totally random reason to grow my hair.  So at some point I decided to not cut my hair any longer and let it grow. I took great care of it and did everything that is supposed to improve hair growth. When my hair did grow enough to make a braid and fall over my shoulder, I forgot to “experience that feeling.” I forgot my goal even when I achieved it, but to this day I remember everything I did to achieve that goal.

Here is what happens to me when I am hungry. More often than not, I am so hungry that I don’t enjoy the process of cooking. My entire focus is on quickly putting some food in my belly. I have realized that when I am not over focused on my goal of eating, I do actually enjoy cooking a lot. I enjoy the process of getting ingredients together to make something yum. But that requires me to shift my focus from eating to cooking.

The point is – reaching a certain goal is typically a moment-in-time joy, which, while I hugely value, is drastically different from the joy of being on the journey itself. I do feel that most of my life I have vastly exaggerated the value of destination in my head. I sometimes tend to focus on the destination and success so much that it prevents me from enjoying the journey. The reality, however, is that I do remember instances during which I have enjoyed the journey just as much as, and maybe more than, reaching the goal itself. And those memories are priceless.

What makes this over-emphasis on the final destination worse is the extreme focus on success and leadership. We are hardwired to succeed. To lead. We are taught to value victory and leadership. We are all trying to be successful and be leaders. I often wonder why we don’t talk more about failing and following.

I am secretly (and openly) afraid of failing. I fear failing an interview, a game, a recipe, a relationship, anything. I think of failing as a big setback and something that I never ever want to face. The way I want to start thinking about failure is a step-in-the-way of my journey. Failure is never the end. Not for me. Not for anyone. I am not being extra brave by saying that failure is just a stepping stone and not the end of the world. Because everyone says it. Everyone wants to believe in it. But what I am doing by reminding myself right from the very beginning of ‘failure being a stepping stone,’ is allowing myself to be fearless, be brave, and truly enjoy the journey that I am on. If I consider failure to be just another step then I suddenly feel lighter. My intent is not to get rid of accountability by any means. It is just so I can get a fresh perspective on things that are truly important.

Over the last few years I have had the privilege to study and work among the brightest and the smartest. The one quality that everyone seems to be talking about is leadership. While leadership is a great quality to have and nurture, we nearly don’t talk enough about following. I am by no means trying to diss leaders and leadership. But I do think that the focus on being good leaders has to accompany with being able to follow right.  The reason I am over thinking this aspect of being is because I sometimes wonder about what I would like to instill in my little people. And I am rather convinced that I want them to value and be proud of their failures as much as their success because it indicates their devotion, determination and the strength to try. I want them to value following as much as, if not more than, leading because it indicates the discipline and the attitude that it takes to achieve something while being humble and mature. So yes. Succeed but value failures. Lead but value following.

Allowing myself the freedom to follow and fail has allowed me to enjoy my journey in a way that I haven’t before. This joy of my journey is absolutely priceless.

Well, so far so lovely.

Now let me contradict what I just said. While it is so enjoyable to go through the journey and not hype up the destination, life will bring you at the intersection of journey and destination where you might have to choose the latter. One such intersection for us has been sleep training our kids. It is hard as hell. We are having to do this out of compulsion because there are times when Siddharth has to travel and I am with both the kids. The hardest thing for me during those times is putting Samaira and Rehan to sleep when they are extremely sleepy and cranky but want to keep waking each other up. We question our decision to sleep train, and not sleep train every single day. We are totally confused about the right thing to do. And I sure wish I could get to the final result of sleep-training without having to go through the process of it! This is surely a time when I am not enjoying the journey as I will the destination. Such is the dilemma of being a parent.

So, for everything except for sleep training, I sure hope I live the journey. Destination is so overrated!


1 comment:

Trapti said...

Very well said sis, I feel that Journey and destination are incomplete without each other ... a journey without an end in sight is not a journey at all ... a destination is more enjoyable if the journey is good, otherwise we tend to look for short cuts ...
Similarly, leadership includes following too ... a good leader has to go through a process of being a good follower first ....
and well kids teach you to enjoy the journey called LIFE ...where somehow the destination becomes us and each other ...