Today’s guest post comes from Dinesh Kandanchatha. He is a founder, mentor, speaker and—above all else—entrepreneur. He encourages founders to ask the right questions, navigate challenging decisions, and find those tough answers that are sometimes difficult to face. Dinesh, who has built, bought, sold, led, and/or invested in over 13 companies, knows what it takes to transform a business.
Over to you, Dinesh!
Ever felt like you were on a highway with no off ramps? This weekend I had the pleasure of speaking with a bright, motivated young lady about her future career goals. Leaving high school means merging onto a highway heading in one direction for the rest of her life. Though I admire her for her goals, I couldn’t help but think this vision of traveling from point A to point B with the quickest, most direct route is doing a great disservice to our young people.
Those of us who have spent a few years on the career highway know it’s a high-speed, high-stress path with lots of crazy drivers and no emergency lane to fall back on once you’re exhausted. You merge onto the highway at the end of high school when you prep for university and the “ideal degree/college.” The long, stretching road represents your first job with frequent lane switches as you climb the corporate ladder for success, money, or fame. For some, this is a highly enjoyable path that brings great satisfaction and rewards. For others, it’s just a TON of work.
What if there was another way to think about your success? Not in terms of the destination but instead of as a journey. What if you focused on the experiences in addition to the outcomes? Here are my tips for taking the side streets and scenic routes to your life destinations while focusing on having fun along the way:
1. Throw a Dart at the Map
It takes great faith and confidence to put one foot in front of another without a destination in mind. Frankly, I’m not so strong, so I get comfort by setting a 5-year goal. It’s a simple 1-2 sentence goal describing an end state written in the past tense. For example, “I have achieved a healthy lifestyle measured by being in the top 15% of physical health for men my age.” Next describe why this goal is important. For the example we are using, I would say, “Health is the fuel that allows me to maximize my experiences.” Finally, add one thing you will do in the next 90 days towards this goal. In this case, my action is, “Go for a 20-minute walk every day.”
2. Figure out Your Co-Pilots
One of the earliest lessons I learned in my career, is that it’s more fun to achieve with others. In fact, working towards a collective goal is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Napoleon Hill calls goal-oriented groups “masterminds.” A mastermind is a group of like-minded, action-orientation individuals with similar values. A mastermind is a great opportunity to exercise shared leadership and boost creativity towards a 90-day goal. Additionally, members within a mastermind are highly accountable because everyone involved is supportive and encouraging!
3. Take Pictures
I try as much as possible to journal every 30 days. I write 2-4 pages on what I learned with a specific focus on all the things I tried and got wrong. When journaling, don’t worry as much about recording what you got right because you’ll remember it anyways. Focus on the things you got wrong, what you learned and why you think it went wrong. You’ll notice that “I don’t know” shows up a lot. Try to discover why. I also rate things on an awesome/crap scale. If it’s awesome I keep doing it, if it is crap then I ask myself what could I do differently to make it awesome!
4. Plan Your Bathroom Breaks
The hardest thing to do when you’re excited is slow down. Big decisions need time to steep. As you look at your goals and actions remember to allocate time to thinking. For example, decide when you need to decide, how you’re going to decide, who you’re going to get input from and so on. Consider all possibilities before you make a decision. This forces you to think slow. Thinking small is about baby steps. Make sure you can complete the first step within 24-hours. The following step might take 2-3 days, or even a week. Just remember to keep the steps small.
5. Take the Scenic Route and Stop for Coffee
Often, we don’t take time reflect on our travels or take coffee breaks along the route. Detours are a part of the journey. Seek them out and enjoy them! In my professional work, I talk a lot about “transformational coffee.” A transformational coffee is the opportunity to meet someone new. The conversation remarkably transforms your opinions on your future destination. Seek out these experiences, slow down and sip a latte. Build a mental framework where detours are part of the journey, not a frustration.
As we go into the holiday season in North America and finish up 2016, there are many people thinking about where they are going in 2017. My humble advice is to use some of these tips to get off the highway and find a less traveled road with great coffee shops. Don’t be afraid to take a few detours while you are heading towards the horizon!
Question for you: How do you define success? Is it the destination or the journey?