In my last blog I wrote about ‘Lightness’. I want to share another lesson from the Camino, one which brought my wife and I deep satisfaction.
250,000 people walk the Camino to Santiago each year. It takes 1 to 2 months to walk it all. We met people doing it for all sorts of reasons; a recent bereavement; for an adventure; to get fit; what to do next in life; to find God again…everyone’s reason is different.
One group were the Lycra set; for them it was about fitness and personal challenge. They sported expensive hi-tech gear and carried gadgets. Wiry as whippets, these people set daily personal distance targets and rose before dawn wearing head-torches to get ahead and get the best bunks. Eating at trestle tables in the evening with such pilgrims or ‘peregrinos’, their loud talk would be about knowing ‘the best’: the best walking poles, the best place to eat squid; the best shortcut route. Those of us mortals who were unknowing and frankly a bit frightened, were in awe, but as they sped past us on the way we waved and wished them ‘buen camino’.
With an injured foot and my wife’s bad blisters we soon abandoned expectations. We were seriously uncertain as to whether we would continue far. One day we hobbled 5.5km when we were still 420km from Santiago. However we reminded ourselves we were at least on our adventure and for us it was walking-the-walk that mattered. Success was having been brave enough to start.
Then a few weeks later a strange thing happened. In villages and hostels we saw again some of the Lycra set from the first week, holed up with bad knees or resting with flu, questioning what they were doing or looking exhausted. They were desperately planning catch-backs as their daily targets had to be revised upwards. We, on the other hand, were quietly chuffed as slowly our bodies had got fitter and we were now more than coping.
Back home and back in work I reflected on this…. ‘Purpose Matters’. It matters for teams and organisations and for all of us interested in enabling transformation and change. If teams set out only to win, and measure success in terms of profit or numerical efficiency, they will burn out. Doing things for the right reasons is so important. Why are we on our journey; who is it serving? Maybe the journey matters more than the destination? Walking-the-walk each day, steadily getting fitter and learning to cope with the unexpected as it comes, can be a very good strategy. I suspect at some point you will overtake the Lycra lot.