Have you ever been lost?
Lost while traveling? Lost in life?
I have. More often than I care to admit. 🙂
It’s no fun, not knowing where you are, sometimes not even knowing how you got there.
What about those times when you got directions and you’re doing your best to follow them…And you end up lost anyway?
Have you experienced that?
Yes? No? Maybe?
Well I have. In fact it happened to me just the other day.
I was traveling to a client’s that I’d never been to before. But I was proactive! I got directions from someone who’d been there often. Armed with these directions I set out for what should have been a 35 to 40 minute drive.
I drove to the second gas station (Station X we’ll call it) in town. “You’ll be heading west and pass Station X, it’ll be on your right.” Was one part of my directions. So I drove past Station X. It was on my right. I was heading West. Check.
“Then you’ll follow the road toward the mountains.” I followed the road past Station X and toward the mountains. Check.
“Keep going until you start losing cell phone service, you’ll be going up into the mountains.” I kept going until I started losing cell phone coverage and I was going up into the mountains. Check.
“You’ll come to the top of a rise and start heading down. After that you’ll see a red dumpster on your right. Turn on that road. Then follow that to the fork in the road and turn left, you’ll cross some rail-road tracks and the business is just up the road on the left.”
I came to the top of the rise and started back down. No red dumpster…
Hmmm, maybe it’s a little farther on. After all, my directions said, “If you come to Iron Town, you’ve gone too far.” I hadn’t seen that town yet, so it must be a little farther up the road.
I drove up the next rise, a few more roads to the right, no red dumpster.
I hit the next town. But it wasn’t Iron Town.
Cell service was back so I called my friend and told him I missed the road somehow.
“Well did you pass Station X on the right?”
“The second Station X in town?”
“And you followed the road into the mountains until you started losing cell service?”
“Yes. But I never saw Iron Town.”
“Hmmm… We’ll you must have missed that too. It’s a small town. Go back. This time look for the red dumpster on your left. Then turn on the road right after it. And you’ll get there.”
“Okay.” So I hung up, turned around and started looking for the red dumpster on my left.
Did I find it?
I carefully scanned every bit of the road on the way back. Nothing. So I stopped, once I had cell signal again, and did a search for the customer. What I discovered was this:
I Was Using The Wrong Map
There were three Station Xs in town. I’d never known that. I thought the third Station X was the second. The second and third stations were identical in design. Both stations were on the right of a road that went into the mountains. Both roads traveled into areas where there was no cell phone service. In fact the directions fit perfectly for both routes except for one tiny but critical bit. We’d never discussed the fact that one of the roads passes Station X and then curves North while the other road continues heading West.
I got to the second Station X and followed my directions. It felt surreal how the direction matched up perfectly again. But the difference was this time I was in the right area. I made it to the client. Two and a half hours later than I should have. And I’ll never forget where that client is located!
I also reinforced a valuable lesson.
It doesn’t matter how good your directions are or how good you are at following them if you’re using the wrong map. You can know where you’re going. You can even follow directions perfectly. But if the directions you’re using don’t match what’s around you, you’ll never reach your destination.
This is true for navigating the physical paths in life and for traveling the spiritual and intellectual byways that enhance our existence. The difference is that following the wrong life-map can end with tragic results.
How do we know whether we’re in the right area with the wrong map, in the wrong area with the right map, or in the right area with the right map?
Pay Attention to the Feedback You’re Getting!
That means watch, listen, and feel your results.
Do the results match what you expect? Are the results improving your life? Are they helping others? Are they bringing you closer to the destination you had in mind? Or, like my adventure above, are you just getting more confused because some things match while others make no sense?
It also reminded me that sometimes well intentioned people fail to give us all the information we need to follow their directions. It’s no fault of theirs; just that they might take something for granted that’s a key bit of information for our journey.
So always pay attention to the results you’re getting. If they don’t reasonably match what you expect, then maybe it’s time to check your map.
You Are the Master of Your Destiny!
Copyright © 2013 Roland Byrd — All Rights Reserved