By Katie B. Smith, Executive & Career Coach, Katie B. Smith & Associates, LLC
“Success is a journey, not a destination.” Ben Sweetland
To journey is to travel from one place to another—in our lives and our work. It can be challenging to stay present, and mindful while growing our businesses, our teams, our relationships and our selves. Yet all of our journeys encompass success even if we fail—because failure is a part of success. The ability to fail and get back up is success in its own right.
I want to share a story from one of my clients—we’ll call her Barbara. Barbara has a successful $3M company and her goal is to reach $5M in revenue. She has a small team and has created an incredibly collaborative culture. Barbara is your typical Type A person—goal-oriented and driven to achieve. She is also an intelligent, lifelong learner, and a resource to her community and profession.
When I started coaching her two years ago, two of her fulltime employees were having a hard time getting along, so we worked on developing effective communication skills. One of them—we’ll call her Debbie—was very receptive and made great progress. The other—we’ll call her Maria—was resistant to coaching. Barbara and Debbie both believed that Maria was the problem. However, after six months, Maria asked for coaching based on the positive changes in communication she saw in Debbie.
Maria began seeing how she came across to her team members and realized what she needed to do to be engaged with her work and the company. She started speaking her truth about her frustrations and clearly stated what she needed in her current role. She reflected to both Barbara and Debbie the ways that they were not taking accountability for the business they wanted to drive. Because Maria was vulnerable and real with her team members, she helped to shift the perceptions and interactions of her entire team for the better.
Barbara began to realize her own challenges as a company leader and communicator. Soon, Maria and Debbie were working respectfully together, and Barbara was stepping into her role as CEO, leading the company with more accountability.
I sat with Barbara recently and she said she still felt that she had not been successful enough. But as we talked, she started to realize all that had changed in the last year and a half—the growth in herself and her team. Never in a million years, she said, did she think that Debbie and Maria would be collaborating together at the level that they are now.
When we stay focused on our goal, yet patient and mindful of the present, we allow room for the results to blossom in ways greater than we imagined. Barbara became mindful of her role as CEO and realized that if she created her own accountability, her team would follow suit. Acknowledging failures and having honest conversations with our team and our selves fosters growth and collaboration as we journey toward our goals. True success after all, lies not in the final destination, but in how we approach the journey.
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