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Be on the Right Journey

Be on the Right Journey
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Are you passionate about your professional journey? This week, we consider the experience of Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.

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Last evening, I listened to an interview with one of Airbnb’s founders and its CEO, Brian Chesky. Like so many successes, the success Chesky and his co-founders came from their shared love for creating something of significance, stepping up to the challenge, and building the needed relationships, all to resolve a compelling problem that was meaningful to them. Sure, Airbnb has made some mistakes, some huge mistakes. But most were a result of their success that caused them to lose focus on what was compelling. They lost focus on the purpose that energized them to do their daily work.

Brian shares that the company did not feel right to him at the peak of its success. The daily process of going to work was not compelling, even though they were about to embark on a multibillion-dollar IPO, one of the largest in recent history. It took COVID to almost end Airbnb when it was on the verge of becoming an IPO superstar. It took a retrenching to try to save Airbnb, which got them back on track doing what they loved doing . . . matching homeowners needing income with guests who would appreciate staying in their homes. The refocus on what was most meaningful to them got them back to doing that which they felt was right to be strategically purposeful. Then, for the first time, Airbnb became profitable.

Many wise people have said, “If you want to see what a leader is made of, give them success and see how they respond.” We are wired to dig ourselves out of the valley and address compelling challenges. Those who have the maturity to handle success, with an understanding of what their success means to all around them, including their community, have proven to be exceptional leaders.

But it is a passion for the journey, the love of the daily strategic doing that is connected to a deeply meaningful purpose. This is where our intrinsic energy in life comes from. The challenge of creating something that will enable a better tomorrow is deeply compelling and rewarding. This is a journey that never has to end, and we need to come to understand that it is the energizing force for our life. Sure, there are intermittent successes along the way. But the joy we get from the achievements is fleeting; like the smell of a new car, the thrill is soon gone. Fulfillment is about the journey, doing that which consistently brings energizing gratification to our lives. Let’s be on the right journey.