binocularsEarlier this week on my way to work, I found myself singing along with one of my favorite U2 songs.  “I Still Haven’t Found What I am Looking For” starts out as follows:

I have climbed highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

As much fun as I had singing it (or at least attempting to) and as good as I felt by the time I landed in my parking spot, I laughed at myself.  I laughed not at how horrible my version of the song was, but about how fortunate I am to not be looking for anything.  I shared my brother’s “Don’t Chase The Keg” philosophy in another post and continually reflect on the good fortune that has led me to my current place in life.  And yes, just as Steve Jobs said, it is easy to connect the dots looking backward, but I never would have landed here if I was looking to.

I am big on goals and there is much to which I aspire for my family, my team, and my teammates. That said, I’d be lying if I told anyone that I am looking for a specific what or not satisfied with life.  In fact, the most enjoyable moments, accomplishments, or successes in my life just happen.  Maybe they didn’t just happen, but they certainly weren’t the specified end-state that resulted from a deliberate plan.

I may not have found what I was looking for, but there are two reasons for that:

  1. The WHAT was never the goal, but a result of forward progress and good fortune
  2. I was never LOOKING FOR it; it found me

I am fortunate to coach many teammates across the Navy and I often get asked for advice about how they might achieve a specific goal that they are LOOKING FOR.  Most times, I give them a variation on the following answer:

Zoom out. Don’t focus so much on a specific objective, but on the journey. Don’t look for a promotion, a specific job, or location; seek out meaningful work that excites you and play to your strengths. Promotions happen, others decide where we will ultimately be assigned, and new locations open up new opportunities.  I can personally attest that many times the job to which we are assigned is a far better opportunity than the one we were LOOKING FOR.

I honestly believe in this mindset, though I will openly admit that I didn’t always.  I thought the sky was falling when I received orders to Adak, Alaska as an Ensign.  As it turned out, the tiny island 1200 miles off the coast served as the foundation for not only my naval career, but my adult life (that’s where I met my wife). Life continues to be pretty darn amazing and I have no doubt that it is better than anything I might have been LOOKING FOR. Good fortune continues to FIND those who are not intentionally LOOKING FOR it.

While writing this, I have been playing “I Still haven’t Found What I Am Looking For” on an endless loop.  Each time the chorus plays, I can’t help but smile and reflect upon the trajectory life has taken since I decided to zoom out, let go, and stop LOOKING FOR overly specific results.

  • What are you LOOKING FOR?
  • Why not focus entirely on the journey and let whatever IT is FIND you?
  • Do you embrace the idea that the IT is likely to change over time regardless of how bad you once wanted IT?