Like so many others, I have spent too much time in my life chasing what I interpreted to be the end goal. It might have been a sports trophy, a diploma or a specific qualification. No matter what it was, my eyes were fixated on the prize and view along the path to the objective was all too often a blur. Using the prize as the metric, I have been fortunate enough to have had more successes than failures. However, as time goes on I realize the flaws of that. Three years ago, I became a big fan of the late Jim Rohn and his mantra: “It’s not what you get but what you become.” I’ve uttered that quote more than many people like to hear, but it is a personal philosophy that I wish I would have adopted earlier in my life.

Over the past few weeks at work, we have asked various portions of the team to endure self-evaluation processes each culminating in a brief that had questionable value in their mind (in all honesty, mine too). Tomorrow, we will conduct an oral qualification board for a junior officer that will result in the minting of our newest qualified Information Warfare Officer. In each case, it’s not about the brief nor the board, it’s about the work that led to that culminating point. It was the study and mentorship that prepared the young officer for the board, and it was the introspective conversations the self-evaluation forced. This weekend I will participate in a distance running event (Note I have trouble with the term “race,” given my pace.) I have no doubt that I will finish, just as I have no doubt the Ensign will pass his oral board. I say that not because I see the future but because the parties involved focused on the journey and made preparation the priority.

When we look back at the things we have accomplished over the course of our lives, I hope that we make the time to focus on the journey that prepared us for any given event. For in most cases, the journey is not the means to an end, but the test itself. I have no regrets and am pleased with both my current station in life and my planned trajectory. That said, I am making deliberate efforts to help my son, and anyone else interested in listening, see that our life’s journey is more than a scavenger hunt collecting accolades that hardly represent who we are, and likely misrepresent who we think we have become.

  • Are you appreciating the journey or focused only on the destination?
  • Are you more focused on the achievement or the person you become in the process?
  • When does the means overshadow the end?