“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
One of the difficult lessons of the past year is that we always have to be prepared for the unexpected. I don’t mean that you can physically prepare for every eventuality. I just mean that you have to be prepared for things to happen that aren’t in the plan, and that you have to be able to adjust and adapt when they do.
We often think of that “adjust and adapt” as what we do when obstacles get in our way. Something bad happened, so we have to be agile or flexible. That’s certainly true.
However, it’s also true that the same thing happens from a positive standpoint. Sometimes opportunities materialize where we weren’t expecting them to. Sometimes it turns out we have strengths we didn’t know about. Sometimes things are actually better than we expected.
We can’t miss those opportunities or fail to take advantage of those strengths because we’re so busy executing the plan that we fail to notice them. We can be so busy executing the plan, that when a much better plan becomes apparent we miss it, because we’ve got our heads down, because we’re so invested in the plan that we can’t see anything else.
Remember to pick your head up and look around from time to time. Pay attention to what’s actually happening around you and in your organization. Yes, we want to be persistent and focused on execution. But don’t do that at the expense of missing out.
It might not even be something big. It may be as simple as an opportunity to learn something or from someone. Don’t miss out on the chance for something better because you weren’t paying attention. Just because you’re on the right path doesn’t mean there aren’t any beneficial detours. Be awake.