Follow the Yellow Brick Road – Choosing a Destination and Staying on a Path to Reach Our Goals

by John Cummings on May 19, 2010

Has anyone in the world not seen the Wizard of Oz?   I did.  I actually played the “empty kettle” (tin man) in my high school play and have the pictures to prove it, God help me.

In this movie from 1939, written at the turn of the last century, Dorothy’s journey from Kansas to Oz and the events that befall her on the way (actually unconscious in her bed in Kansas) has been the subject of many interpretations over the hundred years since the story was first written.  But some universal truths stand out that we can all use, everyday, to stay on target, on goal, on a path to our own Emerald City.

Before we choose a route, we need to know where we’re going.  What’s at the end of your Yellow Brick Road?   It’s not a rhetorical question.  What you are striving for each day determines where you’re going to end up.   Are you seeking wealth?  Chances are, you’ll find it.   Do you lust after other things?  You’ll get them.   Whatever you plan to achieve or acquire, you will eventually achieve or acquire.   Are you planning for nothing at all right now.  Guess what you’ll end up with.  And a lot of it.

I like the metaphor of the Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz that there is only one path.  In real life, there are so many ways to get where you’re going but usually only one right way, only one Yellow Brick Road.   Not having a known destination and not staying on the best route to that end point will take you on detours you didn’t count on.   Some detours can bring real danger but most are just time wasters. Unfortunately, we often waste a lot of time on a lot of detours before we come to grips with that fact.

I was on a little journey with my wife, my two kids and about 6 of their friends recently to a place called Peanut Island.  It’s a little island in the intracoastal waterway of Palm Beach County that has become a popular destination for boaters, beachgoers and campers.    You can only get there by boat and you can park at the dock on the east side of the island where the beach is (our destination) or in the lagoon on the west side.  Being new boaters, we chose the less busy west side lagoon, but we would need to walk to the beach on the other side of the island.

When we all got off of the boat, we had two choices:  go north or go south.  Either way would take us to the other side of the island.  My son’s friend Daniel suggested we go north, but we all trudged southward.  “I think it’s shorter this way,” he protested mildly.   We all ignored him.  What’s the difference?  If only we had seen an aerial view of the island!  We would have known the difference.   Instead, ten of us walked an extra mile with all of our beach gear, coolers, blankets, umbrellas, etc. in 90 degree heat (and rising), realizing too late that we had taken the wrong direction by a longshot.    We got where we were going;  hot, hungry and a little bit annoyed that we had not stopped to consider the best path to follow.

Why do we do that?!   Many people are stuck, so busy in their daily lives, that they’ve lost track of the right road to their destination.  In just as many cases, we lose track of WHAT we are striving for but we keep striving just the same.  If you don’t know where you’re trying to go with your career or your life, I urge you to STOP!   SIT down, THINK about what you’re doing, OPEN your mind and PLAN.   In other words,  you need to take some time to figure it out.   Don’t take another step in the wrong direction.  If you have a destination but you don’t seem to be getting there, you may be on the wrong path and there are ways to get back on the right one.   But you need to stop and figure it out.

In your professional and personal life, the wrong goal or the wrong road to get there can mean a lot more headache or heartache than a wasted mile in the hot sun.   If you’re going in the wrong direction, a step forward might actually be a step away from where you’re trying to go.

Do you know where you’re going?

Mike Haldas says:

Great article John. A little planning is so necessary for any achievement or goal in life. Personal, business, or other.


Great blog! I love the yellow brick road metaphor for our perfect path. I believe we all have a purpose to fulfill and that we need to find the path that takes us home. Just like Dorothy, people are placed into our lives to act as sign posts…..Pointing us home, pointing us to our emerald city, helping us achieve our greatness.

Thanks for being a sign post John and an inspiration to so many.

Nick Van Nice

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