“Map out your future, but do it in pencil.” Jon Bon Jovi
“A map does not just chart, it unlocks and formulates meaning: it bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected.” Reif Larsen
I was brought up when maps were difficult to hold and impossible to fold. Maps now seem easier, but possibly slightly duller with GPS and Apple maps, limited to the size of a small screen rather than a large dining table.
My great friend Neil and I decided to climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland, one New Year. We had to borrow a map from the rather reluctant manager of the hostel, under the clear guarantee that we would return it in pristine condition.
All was going really well until the light snow turned very heavy and the footprints on the path ahead of us were obliterated. We needed to check the map to orientate ourselves. I said to Neil that we should get out of the howling wind before we opened the dining table-sized map. He was confident in his map-holding abilities. Within seconds, the wind had snatched it out of his hands and over the edge, it flew.
Amazingly, it was caught on some rocks on a ledge just below us. I then risked life and limb to rescue the crumpled and snowy map. On my return, with worsening weather conditions and low visibility, we decided that to retreat down the mountain was now the best option. I vowed to return and conquer Ben Nevis – which I did one beautiful summer’s day!
We dried out the map and carefully pressed the map, returning it to its rightful owner. If he only knew!
Do you have a map of the journey for your work role?
What might it look like? What are the environmental conditions in which you will travel?
In circumstances that are very familiar to you, where you have well-trodden paths, things will be quite predictable. You can really anticipate, almost follow what is coming up. You will need to watch out for the weather conditions, but you will manage – and manage you will! You can build a Road Map and follow the signs. Just keep your eyes on the road and don’t run out of gas!
At Leaders’ Map, we have devised something very different – for when things are less predictable and change is inevitable.
What does that actually look like?
These drawings are one dimensional, but life is three-dimensional, and with all your 5 or 6 senses thrown in. You will feel the wind, taste the salt and take the strain. There will be successes to enjoy and failures to endure. It will be energy sapping, exhilarating, frustrating and wonderfully challenging.
Your destination and overall line of direction may not change, but your route will need to flex and adapt as you navigate your way through.
This article is an excerpt from my upcoming book – “Leaders’ Map”. It would be great to get your feedback, so please do share your comments here or on Twitter or LinkedIn.
You may also want to check out the Leaders’ Map App which is now available on the Apple App Store.