A CEO’s Thoughts on Making the Journey Matter – Pt. 1

by | Sep 1, 2015

Making the Journey Matter (blog)

Do you ever find yourself uncertain of the path ahead or wonder why you are where you are on your journey? Elise Mitchell, CEO, Mitchell Communications Group and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Public Relations Network joins us today to discuss her thoughts and give practical guidance on how to fully embrace our leadership journey.

Was there ever a time you doubted God’s plan or the path you were on? If so, how did you overcome it?

Sure – many times. I think most of us do because we like to plot a course and stick to it. But often that’s not where God intends for us to be, and we must be willing to go on the journey no matter where it leads. I learned a lot about both planning as well as detours when I started riding a motorcycle. No matter how much you plan a trip, you never know how things will actually play out, and many times you need to take some different roads before reaching your destination. More often than not, these unplanned routes allow you to discover new and interesting places you hadn’t expected but fully enjoyed—maybe even more so because they were serendipitous. The unpredictability is part of the fun—if you are journey-minded.

Being an explorer means going unexpected places at unexpected times in life. This is true in our leadership journey, as well. The times when we scrap the map can take us to new opportunities we hadn’t planned on but that can be hugely rewarding if we remain open to the possibilities.

Do you have an example of what it means to be an explorer?

The best example was when we moved to Fayetteville, Ark. once my husband Raye finished his medical training in Memphis. I had hoped we would end up in a big city where we would both have plenty of career opportunities. But when we were considering a move to Northwest Arkansas, it was in the mid-1990s — the region was so small  and I was concerned about what I could do here.  But I knew I had three choices – (1) stay in Memphis, (2) move and hate it, or (3) move and love it.  After some brief (but robust!) debate inside my head, thankfully I chose the latter, and that’s when I began making plans to start Mitchell Communications Group.

Looking back now, I can see this was exactly where God wanted both of us to be living and working, and he had plans to use us right where we ended up. We’ve had a wonderful life here. I’m glad I was willing to take the detour from the original plan I had for our lives, and things turned out pretty well after all.

What are some ways we can enjoy the journey when God takes us down an uncertain path?

When we find ourselves in an uncertain, unpleasant – or in an outright frightening place in our journey, our temptation is to find a way to escape or numb the pain. It’s very difficult to hold onto ourselves in those moments and trust that God is taking us where he wants us to go, even if it’s through some pretty rocky spots.

More and more I have learned to stay very present in the moment, willing to pivot in my path and fully experience what is happening, no matter how miserable I might be. When I do this, I have gained far greater wisdom and understanding than I would have by running away or resisting God, and it’s amazing to see what God brings to us that is far better in the end.

Of course this is pretty tough for those of us who like to be in control, because going through uncertainty means giving up a lot of control. Reread Jonah if you need a reminder of this lesson.

Did you like what you learned here? If so, be sure to subscribe and stay tuned for Part 2 of our discussion with Elise. You can also join us at FUSE on Sept. 11 in Rogers, Ark. where she will share more about making the journey matter.


Elise Mitchell Headshot Nov 19 2012 030 Final PRINT ONLY Elise Mitchell 
CEO, Mitchell Communications Group
CEO, Dentsu Aegis Public Relations NetworkElise Mitchell is the CEO of Arkansas-based Mitchell Communications Group. She helped build Mitchell into one of the top 10 fastest-growing firms globally and a two-time agency of the year winner, honored by PRWeek and The Holmes Report. She has received numerous awards, including being named PRWeek Agency Public Relations Professional of the Year and a Top 50 Power Player in PR. Learn more about Elise here.