The Journey That MattersJan. 9, 2022
For some things, the journey matters more than the end result.
For example: I use an online software program to maintain a timeline of historical figures and events that I encounter. When an interesting historical figure comes up in books, film or conversation, I add the person to the timeline, with a brief bio. Then I look for contemporaries and add them too. Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and Amelia Earhart…they’re all on the timeline! With lots of figures in between.
The end result is not earth-shattering. It’s simply a timeline with public information. It contains a smattering of historical figures scattered across the last 3,000 thousand years. There’s no proprietary information in it. It wouldn’t win any awards.
But the act of building it helped me learn the material. The act of choosing where to put each person on the chart led me to notice what else was happening when that person lived, and to make connections to other events and people. It is the process of creating the timeline, not the “having” of the timeline at the end, that is most worthwhile.
This lesson (that the process sometimes matters more than the end result) is relevant in other places:
If you get promoted, the new title is nice. But if you didn’t put in the work to master the previous role, having a better title probably won’t solve many issues.
If you lose the weight that you wanted to, but didn’t learn how to do it sustainably along the way, then those results may not last either.
Sometimes the destination is simply a target that helps you stay on the path of a valuable journey.