William Liao

August 24, 2021

It's the going that's good

One of my all-time favorite classes in college was a course taught by a professor from the Kelley School of Business. 

On paper, the course was about negotiation tactics. In reality, it was a series of lessons on how to live a good life.

The professor who taught the course was the perfect role model for such a subject:

  1. He was very in tune with what mattered to his life: he declined the opportunity to become a partner at his law firm — a tremendous milestone— so that he could focus on spending time traveling and being with his family. 
  2. He was always prepared: his lectures were impactful and to-the-point. He wore a suit and polished his shoes on a regular basis — it’s not my style, but I respected his discipline. 
  3. He was a philosopher at heart: a large portion of the curriculum involved reading The Alchemist by Paul Coelho and lectures on the meaning of ‘alchemy’ — of achieving the best possible version of ourselves. 

Towards the end of the semester in an effort to impart the most important bit of wisdom he had to offer, he quoted the following lyrics from the song ‘Greyhound’ by Harry Chapin: 

“It’s got to be the going not the getting there that’s good”

His point is that it’s not being at our fullest potential that matters the most; it’s the process we undergo to achieve that potential. 

We don’t walk into a movie eagerly awaiting the credits.

We don’t play a song to listen to the last beat. 

The end — the goal, the achievement — is just as ephemeral as any other moment and to look forward to it at the exclusion of everything else is to miss the point. 

To this day, I continue to remind myself: equally important to having goals, is savoring the journey you take — bumps and all — to achieve them. 

Thanks, Professor H.