Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

GPS: Journey or Destination?

My nephew just turned down a sure thing, an internship in the big city that is probably attached to an equally sure thing job after graduation. He turned it down. Said it was too much like last summer’s internship, that he wouldn’t really be expanding his horizon enough. Something about no risk, no chance for reward. My sister is apoplectic.

This parenting gig is hard, man. Mentoring and coaching? Teaching? They’re pretty tough, too. It’s that journey vs. destination thing, I think. You know, “it’s not the destination but the journey that counts”, or some variation of that. I call BS on that, and I’ll bet you do, too. The destination DOES matter. Eventually ya gotta just get there, wherever there happens to be, and whenever eventually happens to, well, happen.

That’s what makes those gigs–parent, coach, mentor, teacher–so tough. It all matters, destination AND journey, and the more you care about your child, athlete, or student the more they matter to you. Which is the more important though? For you as the parent, coach, or teacher I mean.

Two children from two different families set out to climb a mountain, journeys observed by parents who are involved in the planning and execution of these odysseys. Child and parent agree that achieving the summit is the goal, that having done so signifies success. All are aware that there is a well-established route to the peak, a direct path that offers a predictable and timely arrival with a high likelihood of summiting.

Both parents encourage their children to take this easier route; neither child does so. Both children safely reach the peak. One parent rejoices for the goal has been achieved without injury, the other expresses disappointment because the path chosen did not conform to the parent’s plan. The correct outcome occurred, but in this parent’s mind the wrong process got them there, and because of this there is no joy.

This parenting, coaching, mentoring thing is hard, man.

Here’s one man’s take, for whatever it might be worth. Goals are important; destinations matter. There should always be one, a goal, a destination, programmed into that little GPS of life we all carry around for ourselves and for those we guide. And just like the GPS we use on our real-life travels, that little “life GPS” contains not only the most direct, quickest route to the destination, it also contains within it a nearly limitless number of alternate routes, all of which will eventually deposit our traveller at that same destination.

We parents, coaches, teachers, or mentors are kinda like the voice in the GPS. Do we scold when the driver misses a turn (“take an immediate U-turn…”), or do we simply recalculate the route and plot a new course from a different direction? My bid is that we should do the latter, that we behave like a “GPS+” that not only re-calculates the route but does so with an eye not only on the destination but also on choosing the safest route available from wherever that new launch point might be. You see, I think the journey DOES matter, but the only thing that should really matter about the journey to us, the parents/coaches/teachers/mentors, is that it be safe. “You have arrived at your destination” should be accompanied only by high-fives.

And maybe a tiny sigh of relief.


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