It’s a simple metaphor: Are we using a map, a compass, or both? Is it an old map? Do we need to update it or even draw up a new one? What tools are we relying on and why?
A map shows us where we are and where we can go. It tells us locations where someone else has already been. We can use a map to go from A to B, to C, etc.
We encounter lots of maps in our lifetimes. School is a map: Learn this concept, finish this grade, repeat at the next level until you graduate. Jobs with corporate ladders have corresponding maps: Do these tasks, achieve these objectives, and this is how you climb in rank.
A compass shows us directions we can move in. A compass doesn’t give us specific places but tells us the direction we are moving to and from. We can use a compass to head north or any other direction with intention.
We use all sorts of compasses in our lifetime. Our values are like the directions on a compass. We can be creative anywhere, in any direction. We can be helpful in the South, or the North. We can be a good friend in the East or West. Values are mostly consistent as we move to and from.
We often use maps and compasses together. The locations on a map have multiple angles of approach and it’s the compass that helps us figure out how to get where we want to go.
As we think about the more metaphorical maps, like school, work, etc. (ahem… financial plans), sometimes it helps to remember that we often get to draw our own maps as we go. The old maps aren’t always the most useful, and that creates a lot of opportunities – both to figure things out our own way, and for professionals to help those on their own journey.
We can’t draw a proper map without a proper compass. Helping people understand their own cardinal directions and how it relates to the items on their map is one way to consistently create value. We’re all cartographers now. It pays to be willing to help people discover how to use their own compass and be brave enough to draw new maps.