In an article I wrote in 2014, I likened life’s journey, the choices we make and the direction we take, to navigating in the hills. We each will have familiar repeating tasks in our everyday lives that become routine. Yet our life is full long-distance journeys which, as we grow older, take us to unfamiliar territory and new discovery. We get married and have children, they age and grow. We follow a career path that progresses until one day we change careers and follow a different path. What is it that helps us choose our directions in life? On all of these journeys, we are aided by something similar to a map or GPS, guided by the experience of those who have already journeyed along the road and can now help us to reach that destination.
The determination and commitment that we need to keep hiking in the direction we want to go
Raising your awareness of your current situation is critical to being able to expend your efforts towards your goal. In hiking, if you do not know where you are, it is almost impossible to set a course for your destination as you can’t know what compass bearing you need to set. In life, our current situation is sometimes misunderstood and in order to unlock potential, we must review how we understand reality. One way of looking at this is to consider seven potential illusions (Coaching to Greatness, Kim George 2006) that we may be having that blur our sense of attitude and so affect our behaviour… Think through this list, carefully checking your own assumptions.
- The Illusion of Being Not Enough; Which is the root of procrastination because we feel unprepared or inexperienced in taking action. Experience comes from taking action. “Stop dreaming of journeys, and start moving forward.”
- The Illusion of Comparisons; When we compare ourselves to others, we look at measuring our viewpoint with others. This is often misguided as we only see the external persona of others. Comparing is not acting and we must “Act intuitively to find our own amazing journey.”
- The illusion of Struggle; We often see ‘struggle’ in and of itself as a virtue and let’s be honest it is not worth it. How many times do people use being ‘busy’ as a badge? “Work and commitment can be free of struggle.”
- The Illusion of Control; We take action based on how much we think we can control the outcome. We remain stuck, wondering why we cannot succeed…. “Control is different from taking personal responsibility and decision.”
- The Illusion of Time; Often our thinking is stuck in the past, regretting or reminiscing over the past or in the future, hoping for better when we reach that summit. “What about the present moment, do it now.”
- The Illusion of Hope; Beware of hope that does not involve hard work and effort. The mountain with a cable car will be more crowded! What are the odds! “Think positively and act accordingly.”
- The Illusion of Certainty; Often we are afraid to act because we are afraid to let go of the present safety and introduce risk for an uncertain future. “To enjoy new vistas, we have to take the first steps away from the comfort.”
2. Start – Over
Having a better bearing of your current position -you now move to a much more empowered position. You must accept and acknowledge your present position. You are now ready to start-over and set your course. Just as my GPS has to re-calculate if I make a wrong turn, or I need to find myself on the map if I stray from the path, so must we re-assess and start-over.
3. Keep Working At It
Orieneteering and map reading is perfected through trial and error. As we become more familiar with the tools that help us assess our PRESENT SITUATION, we become much more capable of travelling in the direction that’s right for us. Often the difference between average and great is simply more practice. Failure is when you stop trying…
4. Make It Yours
The best GPS or hiking map is the one you personalised as you travelled. It contains information you have acquired along the way and it only highlights information that is relevant to you. It has to be true to you and is hard to borrow. It will have meaning to you as you are unique and bring your own experience to bear. Very often, people arrive at the end of their journey realising that it was not their destination they wanted. They were living according to someone else’s map!
OK, so whilst it maybe 4 simple steps, I did not say that it was going to be easy. However, if you keep practising and developing better self-awareness habits, you are re-programming your own GPS that is going to direct and take you to your own great destination. To think more about what greatness means to you, for Executives I highly recommend ‘How Will You Measure Your Life’ by Harvard professor/author Clayton Christensen.