Updated: Sep 21
The year was 1967 and my dad was the Chairman of the committee responsible for all the Canadian Centennial Celebrations for our town, Thedford, Ontario. As a young boy it was a year of one fantastic event after another (massive fireworks displays, concerts at the fairgrounds, carnivals, loads of kids’ events, and parades). Thedford did it up big!!
Parades, UGH! It’s funny how one such event at such a young age can have a lasting impact on you. To this day, I do not like parades – even the Santa Claus parade. 🙂
On a Saturday in mid fall, 1967, Thedford had a Centennial Parade. It was a really big deal and event for the town. Everyone was involved whether you were 5 or 80, there was something for you to participate in. For me and my sister Heather, it was riding our bikes in the parade procession. Not just our ordinary bikes, but our own bikes that had been “modified” by my dad just for the parade. He had made wooden wings and a tail (all covered in brightly colored crepe paper) and placed an old boat propeller on the front of it – all in service of converting it to an “airplane”. It seemed at the time that the wing span was 100 feet, but it was probably less than 3. 🙂 As Heather and I took our place in the procession, I remember being overwhelmed with fear as to how I was going to drive this thing in front of the whole town without falling and making a fool of myself!
Well, I white knuckled it to the very end (without falling), looking the entire time for where the finish line was so that this horrifying experience could be over. I will never forget the feeling of relief when it was done!! I will also never forget Heather’s reaction, which was one of tremendous disappointment WHEN IT WAS OVER??? I have often thought about how was it that we rode side by side for an hour and had such a completely different experience.
Here’s what I have concluded. You see I was 100% focused on the destination – the finish line. My sole purpose was to finish without embarrassing myself or by falling and causing people to think I didn’t know how to ride a bike. Heather on the other hand could have cared less if she fell off her “teacup”. She was all about the fun and excitement – she was 100% focused on the journey, and she was sad when it was over.
When I think about my leadership journey it has many parallels to both perspectives. For the first 80% of my career it was Bruce on the airplane all over again. What if I fall? What if others see what an imposter I am? What if I am not perfect? I had worked my entire career to get to the executive table – “When I get there, I will be happy!” – just like I was when I finished the parade. But instead I found myself feeling very disappointed because it was not all that I had hoped and expected it would be. It was at that same time that I was introduced to coaching and in working with my coach, I realized that the problem was that I was solely focused on the destination, and not the journey. It took a couple of years to break old patterns, but eventually I was able to step fully into a new journey – starting my own coaching practice, and I have never looked back. Like Heather, I am now riding in parade – I have no idea where the finish line is and I don’t care. I get out of bed every day looking forward to what will emerge and find a way to enjoy it!
Where are you in your life? Are you SOLEY focused on a career destination, a retirement future, or something else – at the expense of enjoying the journey to get there? Do you work to “get to the weekends” or are your weekdays every bit as fulfilling? Are you afraid you will be “found out”? What would be different for you if you were able to get out of bed truly excited about the day ahead? What would you have to do to make that happen? Remember, YOU have the power to choose!