What if we are curious about the unexpected, courageous with our values, and contemplative about anticipated outcomes?
If the airlines changes our departure or arrival gate, do we abort our travel plans? I like to believe we continue forward, committed to the journey. The same should be true for the cause we support. If the conditions change but the need still exists and we can be of service, why not embrace wayfinding? Let us not mistake a new route for a dead end.
Do we need flexibility or are we committed to a specific approach? If versatility is necessary, then best to carry a Swiss Army knife. If we are certain, then a flat head screw driver will work. But if drop the screw into a tight space the tweezers on the knife would be helpful. Or, if we need to read small print the mini-magnifying glass could be handy. At a certain point, even the Swiss Army knife cannot possess all the options. So, how certain are we that we have the right tool for the job? A specially designed instrument can be a powerful resource. A pair of alpine downhill skis will get us to the bottom of a ski hill fast. However, if we need to ascend the mountain afterwards, the skis are a major liability. Unless we have an alpine touring setup with climbing skins and a binding that transitions to climbing mode.
Specialized equipment or multi-tools? A good question to ask before we launch on our next adventure.
What mountain summits beckon in 2021? How committed we are to reaching these peaks will determine the depth of the wayfinding we deploy. As Seth Godin reminds us when working on something remarkable, why are we doing it, who is it for, and how does it work. I send best wishes to the adventures ahead.
What is the results when you have more answers than questions? Does it change when you have more questions than answers? Encountering a moment with a fixed or open mindset might be the greatest variable determining how we proceed. We might navigate terrain we never considered when we ask the right questions and seek new answers.
When take time to plan, we are better prepared to navigate the terrain we encounter. We can ford every stream we approach or discover that a bridge exists along the route. If we are on foot, the outcome of using the bridge is we move a little faster and keep our feet dry. If we are running a railroad, the impact is the difference between reaching the end of the line and continuing our journey.
Even if the route is set out before us on a map, we still have to wayfind when we encounter the terrain. Research and advance scouting helps but it does not get is to the summit, it just informs our journey. Be prepared to do the work that matters.
I enjoy stories about wayfinding. Individuals oriented towards a vision that will forever change their worldview, regardless of success or failure. I read an excerpt from The Sun is a Compass in the New York Times and immediately downloaded the book. I found myself engrossed in a remarkable journey. As an adventurous couple prepare for a 4,000 mile journey across Alaska and Canada, they navigate the perils of planning and encountering the unknown. Caroline and Pat, embody something of a modern Lewis and Clark mixed with the spirit of Klondike Gold Rush, and channeling the naturalist John Muir. The story follows their epic adventure, one which I cannot easily fathom.
They capture the essence of wayfinding throughout the quest.
Pat has never regarded a to-do list as a worthy endeavor. Perhaps it’s how he maintains his optimism, working as hard and as fast as he can, dreaming only of the outcome, not the possibility of failure.
Imagine dreaming so big that the scale cannot be represented without being distorted.
I create a giant timetable of what needs to go where and on which date. Pat tapes dozens of topographic maps to the wall and trace our intended routes on each of them. When the maps begin to tilt crookedly, I snap at Pat to be more careful before he calmly informs me that it’s not his sloppy taping job, but the curvature of the earth that’s responsible. The scale is that big.
They embrace disruption constantly.
In order to stay on schedule, we have to follow the ocean’s clock, not our own…at the edge of a volatile and unforgiving ocean, waiting is our safety margin.
And, they recognize the importance of adapting to the real world, despite what the map suggests.
Now I realize a line on a map is only that. We’ve planned our route around elevation contours and river bends, but we have no idea what we will find really. Everything can change in a day. In an instant.
What are you working on that is so big that it cannot be fully visualized? What feels monumental? What is holding us back from striking out into wild territories, knowing that the journey will transform us and those we seek to inspire?
Sometimes we must step back before going forward. Sometimes we should descend before ascending. Sometimes our immediate direction of travel is not our final heading.
Real-time assessment of our performance needs context. There are moments when we are traveling below parameters, but for a good reason. If we manage by the numbers, we miss the opportunity to understand our surroundings and seize the opportunity. Wayfinding is our greatest asset, why not embrace it?
Behind the storm is a sunset. An opportunity to orient to the horizon that guides us towards what is important.
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” – Rene Daumal