Focus on the Journey, Not the Destination

I am a monthly contributor to MoneyInc.com and in October, I wrote about my early leadership journey. The article, titled, “Beam Me Up Scotty,” talks about me being too focused on my own career — causing me to miss an opportunity to learn from my boss, who was a very quiet, humble servant leader. I was in my late 20s at the time and thought I was a good leader.  I want to share with you the difference between Art, the young leader of the past, and the leader I am today.

My first leadership role came in my mid-20s, when I accepted a position as a manager. After six months, my boss was let go and I was promoted into a senior leadership role as the controller in my division. Looking back, I can say I was more focused on the destination than the journey.  My focus was all about me climbing the corporate ladder. I wanted the position, title and all the perks that went along with it. At the age of 25, my compensation package included a brand new company car. I was so focused on doing what it took to obtain the position and its benefits that nothing else in my life mattered. My goal was to retire at the age of 40 in Newport Beach, California, with a 50-foot yacht docked next to my bayside home. It was all about the destination.

Fast-forward 30 years to today. After transforming my leadership beliefs, my focus has taken a dramatic turn for the better. I spent most of my career as a power leader. In 2003, with the help of Ken Blanchard, I started my transformation. In 2004, I was given the opportunity to buy a company, and my wife Lori and I decided to run it based on servant leadership principles.

Over time, I’ve learned that servant leadership is all about behaviors, not principles. At the age of 63, my focus is no longer on myself — it’s serving others, putting others above myself. That requires me to focus on how I behave, not what I believe. My behaviors inspire and equip others, which in turn influences others to behave differently. Developing servant leaders through sharing my knowledge, about the business we own as well as the leadership lessons learned in my transformation to servant leadership, is my focus today. It is all about the journey.  

One of my favorite quotes from my book, Farmer Able, is about focusing on how we as leaders get results. How we get results is more important than the results themselves. As leaders, we should focus on the journey and not the destination. Recently, the publisher of Farmer Able wrote an article about the success of the book in a monthly newsletter distributed to the writers it represents. I will close with a quote from that article, titled, “It’s All About the Reader.”

“One of the fundamental principles of servant leadership is that ‘it’s not about you,’ the leader. It’s about the people you lead. Maybe the strong sales of Farmer Able are proof of this concept for book authors as well. If, like Art, you don’t focus on your book sales, but instead focus on the people you are trying to serve, your readers, then success will follow.”  

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Inspire and equip first and you will reach your destination.  As leaders, we must get results. As servant leaders, it’s all about how you get the results. Do it the right way, all for the sake of others.