About once every other year my wife and I make our way to Maui, Hawaii for a week or two of rest and relaxation in America's 50th state. One of our favorite things to do is drive "the Road to Hana." For those who have not been, the Road to Hana is a fifty mile stretch along the north coast of Maui, between Kahului, the largest city on Maui, and the small town of Hana on the east end of the island.
Although mapquest.com will tell you the trip can be made in about 2.5 hours, I don't know why any visitor would want to. The reason is simple: Despite 600 hairpin turns and 54 one-lane bridges, the Road to Hana winds through some of the most beautiful scenery on the face of the planet.
Once, during one of our many stops for a scenic photo, several other tourists who were making the trip for the first time asked if we were on our way to Hana. Upon learning we were, they asked, "what's in Hana that's so special?"
My wife gave a great reply: "It's not that there's anything particularly outstanding in Hana. It's the drive to Hana that's special."
Essentially, anyone who zips on their merry way to Hana might reach their destination quickly, but they'll be shortchanged in the process.
The holiday season is no different. Here in the last weeks of the calendar year, Christmas Day and other celebrations are often seen as "destinations." Many work hard to make their holiday morning picture perfect, only to be let down when not everything goes as planned.
Similarly, in the business world, we can get myopic as we work toward our goals. When that happens we miss learning opportunities and work itself can become more of a burden than it needs to be.
In reality, success in the workplace is just like the Road to Hana. Some of the biggest rewards come during the journey, not at the destination.
The idea of paying attention to the journey instead of the destination is not new. Among the dozens of famous people who have promoted this view is tennis great Arthur Ashe. Ashe once said "Success is a journey not a destination. The doing is usually more important than the outcome. Not everyone can be Number 1."
It seems to be a universal belief: Success is a Journey. In fact, at least three books have been published with that phrase as a title.
I guess the question to consider is that if it's so universal, why aren't more of us adopting this view into our workplaces?
Here at calendar's end, as we evaluate our success for the past year and consider how to launch projects into the next, maybe we can benefit from rethinking how we define success. I'm not suggesting we abandon tough business goals that drive us to higher levels; but I am suggesting that we reconsider how we define success along the way. Here are just a few perspectives to consider:
Provide for flexibility. Generation Y workers (generally under the age of 30) are much less likely to work well with traditional command-and-control management structures. A laser focus on goals while neglecting to accommodate lifestyle will affect employee loyalty and productivity.
Include time for personal/professional development. In times past this has been either dismissed altogether or something each employee was expected to be responsible for on his/her own time. But engaging employees in this arena by including personal/professional development activities in the workplace not only gains an immediate benefit, but creates better long-term retention.
Hold "What did we learn?" sessions. Learning from mistakes is an overlooked gem of an activity. Instead of focusing on what went wrong and castigating someone, focus on what was learned from a mistake and what can be done in the future to prevent the mistake from happening again.
These are just a few ideas. Hundreds more could be listed. But notice that these are ongoing practices. If managers and leaders would regularly evaluate, measure, or gauge how well they're doing these things, they'll be creating a success-filled environment.
It's like going for a drive to see Christmas lights. Just logging in ten miles of driving doesn't make the journey a success—you've got to see lights! And no trip to Hana would be successful without stopping at the "Halfway to Hana" fruit stand and buying some of the best-tasting banana bread on earth.
Bottom line, redefining success as the regular accomplishment of routine practices creates a road OF success, not just a road TO success.