Where is There

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“– so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

(Excerpt from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll)

So many people ask the question that Alice asks: What road should I take? It seems like I hear this question every day. My answer is always the same: Where do you want to go? Granted, this is a tough question. It’s tough because, like Alice, it’s easier to think about survival in one’s current circumstances than it is to think about the ultimate destination.

Finance leaders are in a challenging position when it comes to where we are headed. The transformation finance is going through can follow many paths. How are you determining where you and your team want to go?

The reality is most businesses – and finance teams - are not going toward anything; they’re just trying to go. They’ve abandoned their ‘there’ because either the chasm in front of them is too deep, the forest is too thick or the obstacles are too tall. They can no longer see the summit because distractions have taken them off course. Maybe they never really defined ‘there’ in the first place, and they’re trying with all their might only to go nowhere in particular.

In this article, I’m going to invite you to get above the tree line, get your eyes fixed back on the mountaintop, and then consider how you might move back onto the transformation path that will take you there.

So where is THERE?

‘There’ is your ultimate destination, and that means a whole bunch of different things. ‘There’ is the value you provide and the legacy that you leave. It’s your purpose. It’s your size and scalability. It’s your leadership and your culture. It’s what you are known for. It’s who you serve and why you exist. ‘There’ is the fulfillment of your mission statement. And your ‘there’ is always different than anyone else’s.

Why does THERE matter?

We are all built with an innate drive to work hard toward purposeful, meaningful ends. When we are not striving toward meaning, we lose focus, energy, and life. This is part of the human condition. We are each made with specific skills and gifts that lend themselves to different types of goals and accomplishments. When who you are fuses with the best of what you can do, there you find your “sweet spot”. It is ‘there’ where you find fulfillment and success. And, when you set goals that align with this vision, you create and leave a legacy.

This is as true with companies as it is with people. If a company doesn’t have a clear vision of where ‘there’ is and clear goals that orient the organization to those desired destinations, it will eventually shrivel and die. Every company needs a vibrant ‘there’ to stay alive.

In addition to bringing meaning and significance to people, there are several other outcomes that having a ‘there’ will bring about:

  • Team unity, based on common goals
  • Sustainability, in choosing to forego tempting short-term solutions for something more valuable and long-lasting
  • Financial success
  • A lasting legacy
  • Fewer distractions/waste

Don’t make decisions to merely survive, but establish a ‘there’ that will allow you to thrive. Your business depends upon it.

How do I begin the journey to THERE?

So you’re up above the tree line, the fog is beginning to clear and that summit is starting to show. When you climb back down to your current reality, in the trees with chasms and boulders all around, how do you begin taking steps toward ‘there’? How do you get on the right path?

Here are some tips for you:

  • Get really detailed and clear on what ‘there’ looks like. Is ‘there’ a financial goal? Is it an expansion goal? Who is involved, what are the expectations, and how will it all work?
  • Make sure it’s doable. Don’t make your ‘there’ something totally out of reach. Make sure you have the resources (people, finances, timelines, scalability) to accomplish your goal.
  • Make sure you can gauge your success. If there’s no way to measure whether or not you’ve reached ‘there’ (with clear metrics or outcomes), you’ve probably set the wrong goal.
  • Make sure ‘there’ matters and has a place in the market.
  • Set target dates for reaching different mile-markers on your journey to ‘there’. When will you reach ‘there’ and what are your smaller goals along the way?

Time to get on the path…

My final thought for you is this: do not wait to figure out where ‘there’ is. I realize it’s easy to get stuck in the tangle of making quick tactical decisions in place of identifying a long-term endpoint that could mean financial strain, major organizational changes, and a lot of strategic planning. I’m here to tell you it’s worth it. And once again – the longevity and success of your company depends upon it.


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