The western culture is very goal-driven. We create goals for everything.
We want to lose weight for summer, so we get a personal trainer and for the next 3 months drag ourselves out of bed to the gym. We get a stringent eating plan developed by a leading dietician and restrict calories. All the pain and denial is ok, because we’re focusing on that day that we will strut confidently onto the beach glowing with pride and enjoying the attention.
We might want to be a rock star, dreaming of performing live in front of a large crowd at a festival, so we carve out hours before and after work, forgoing any social life, practicing until we’ve got all the difficult parts completely under our fingers. To make it all seem worthwhile, we hold an image of ourselves on stage revelling in the crowd’s cheers.
We see our competitors nipping at our heels and with an increasingly difficult economic climate we want to increase our revenue, decrease our costs and improve our customer experience in the next 2 years. We put together an aggressive plan and then work the teams feverishly late into the evenings, planning all the things we’ll be able to do with the sizeable bonuses we’ll get when we shoot the lights out.
What if we looked at it differently? What if the gym workout itself was the important part? A continuous focus on enhancing your technique; reviewing and improving your running times; tracking and increasing your weights; finding unique ways to train certain muscles; observing and improving your form.
What if the daily practising of the instrument was the real benefit? The discipline of allocating dedicated time and sticking to it; the practise of breaking down the musical phrases and repeating them slowly until they flow without finger slips, then slowly increasing the speed; the practising together with other musicians to all bring the music to life.
Perhaps learning to work together to help the company win is the biggest benefit? The empathy you develop for others in your team when you’re all working towards a common goal; the fluid communication that you develop when really working close with others; the understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and the support and encouragement you give each other to ensure that you all get over the finish line.
These things you do during the process of reaching your goals, the tools, practises, techniques and lessons are what stay with you far beyond the goal. They will translate into every other area of your life, enriching you far more than the day on the beach, that night on the stage, or indeed that new sports car you bought with that bonus.