This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, "The Backpacker's Guide to Business Success."
“If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” – Henry Kissinger
My first backpacking trip was fun—especially when the pack was off! Only after multiple trips did I learn how the backpack could almost be part of me, to the point that I didn’t feel the weight or even think about this 35- or 40-pound thing on my back. We moved together. We were attached, and that was good. This change happened because I learned that the planning and preparation part of the trip was as important as the actual physical part of backpacking. Planning was required--my attitude needed to be in balance, the people that came along were critical, and having the right gear made a tremendous difference.
All the work that takes place before you actually step foot on the mountain determines how much fun you will have on the mountain. And the same is true in business: the quality of your planning determines whether or not you will succeed. Yet, statistics reveal that people spend more time planning for vacations than they do for their business or careers.
In the wilderness, lack of preparation and planning creates forest fires, millions of dollars spent on rescues, and loss of life. The same lack of preparation and planning in business creates failed projects, debt, and loss of productivity.
Plans can be changed and often should be changed. New opportunities, new ventures, road blocks, or changing interests will alter our plans. Yet the possibility of change is no reason not to have a plan. By the time I graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, with a degree in sociology and an emphasis in crime and delinquency, I had determined my true passion was in business. I look back on my career and wonder what I would be like if I had gone ahead and worked with delinquents, just because that was my “plan.”
From the outside, it certainly looks like my plan changed. But my fundamental goal—the foundation of my “plan”—has never changed. I always wanted to help people, impact lives, make a difference. I am just doing it in a very different way than I envisioned. The reality is my plan hasn’t changed. The execution of the plan and the path I took changed, but not the fundamental purpose. The same is true on the mountain. No matter how much I know about the path I'm walking, the journey is always a surprise beyond my imagination.
It is ok to change the plan, but there is a profound difference between intentional course correction and unintentional wandering. You know you are wandering if you wonder where you are going and when you will arrive—especially if you wouldn’t recognize arrival if it stood in front of you!
That is why life is often called a journey. I use the word journey intentionally. There will always be a mountain to climb and the opportunity to grow as long as I draw breath. About some of the journeys, I will have clarity; others, not so much. Some journeys will be more difficult, some easier. But the attitude in which we approach each of the different journeys can make the difference between the outcome of “I did it!” and the outcome of “Is that all there is?”