Road to Nowhere

Why travel a road to nowhere? Why does it even exist? Is somebody’s nowhere somewhere? Have you discovered that the scenic route often reveals new insights that the main road cannot deliver?

We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere -Talking Heads

Apparently the road to nowhere was worth a song. Perhaps it is worth exploration.

Is Your Purpose A Lottery Number

If we are committed to what we believe, we are willing to restate our purpose repeatedly. We are OK with the quick pick option if we consider it a game of chance.

Which core values are you not willing to sacrifice because they are fundamental to your quest? Which tactics are considered a roll of the dice? If we are not playing the same numbers in every drawing, then we should recognize the outcome does not matter. We have signed up for the adventure, but the work that matters comes with dedicated effort.

Not As Expected

At first glance, the scene we encounter might look coherent—a plane departing a runway. Then we recognize the plane is a shadow and the ‘runway’ is a street grid for new housing development. Just because it rhymes does not mean it parallels reality.

How might we remain curious when our first glance seems to confirm expectations? How might we adopt a mindset to make room for variable and serendipity? How might we uncouple past performance from future results?

Shock vs Encourage

We can shock potential clients into doing business with us by leveraging scarcity, networks, features and benefits, FOMO, etc. Most of these interactions tend to transactional. We can encourage a potential client and allow them to approach us when they are ready. We can offer, growth, significance, connection, clarity, and trust. Many of these engagements tend to be transformative.

Shock vs encourage. Shock is quick and reaches the decision threshold immediately. Encouragement takes time and investment and create alignment to inspire the work that matters. What type of work are we seeking? How do you want to fill your schedule and are you willing to leave blank spaces on the calendar until you find the right partnerships?

So Close

If we miss an opportunity, are the ones where it is inches or seconds from success more challenging to absorb than the opportunities that closed miles or days before we reached the finish line? Our raffle ticket being one number off the winning number. We felt potential success until the final moment. A missed flight where the aircraft is sitting at the gate or a race when a medal is lost by tenths of second. Technically, these end in the same result but our ability to be approximate to our goal can change our mindset. It can motivate us or undermine our morale.

How might we embrace the the journey and experiences we encountered along the way that serve as fuel for our next adventure, regardless of the results? How might we recognize the journey is not over, even when the itinerary is altered?

Your Standards

When you work on a project, what are your standards? Is starting sufficient to meet your expectations? How about creating a beta version? What if the deliverable meets the customer’s expectations but you decided not to complete upgrades that will maximize performance? Where do you stop?

When you operate an airline, is getting the passenger from departure airport to arrival airport sufficient? When does passenger engagement begin and where does it stop? What interactions meet an airline’s standards during the journey? What is the promise you make?

There is a remarkable difference between delivering for the customer’s standard and our own standard? It is important to know which one we have prioritized.

Helpful or Unnecessary?

When are our attempts to set others up for success redundant? Where should we allow for serendipity? How might we frame an opportunity without announcing the ‘moving sidewalk is ending, prepare to step forward?’ Do we need to sign every vantage point and are the moments that have been scripted as remarkable os those we encounter unexpectedly?

How might we allow for wayfinding without providing every adventurer the same script? Even the Wizard of Oz’s Yellow Brink Road presented numerous unexpected side quests.


As social sector enterprises, many of us work on the frontier. We address problems so big, complex, under-represented, or unique that business has seen limited ways to monetize a return on investment. So, we work at the edges of the map, cobbling together resources, scouting the landscape, engaging those with news from different geographies and cultures. It is not an romantic endeavor but a commitment of community. We invest, partner, fail, endure, and succeed.

How might we learn from the leading practices of a frontier mindset? How might we correct course before we adopt a perspective that we are first to encounter the challenge and there is only one approach to move forward? How might we set other up for success and be of service?