Do you live by a map…or a compass?
I’ve been on quite a journey over the past year, learning so much about motherhood…and myself. And learning how easy it is to be swept away and lose yourself in the process of raising others. Ever since I was little, I loved taking care of people. I was a babysitter before I was a teenager (what were those parents thinking!!) and throughout my life I’ve been a magnet not only for kid talk, but for anyone who was seeking support, relationship advice, love or a reality check. I’m the one who gets things done. I know the logistics – I can make it happen.
Get a baby to sleep – check (keeping asleep may be another story). Feed a crowd – check. Ease fears and uncertainties – check. Care for the sick – check. Interpret and mediate – check. Educate without schooling – check. Organize chaos – check. Herd cats – check. I can invest so much time looking outward – making sure everyone else is taken care of – that I forget that I’m actually on a path, too. As a mom of young kids, there are definitely times when it feels like I’m simply a speed bump on the path vs. someone actually walking down it.
My father just wrote a great blog on not looking for a map, but creating a new path. In it he talked about how we can get caught up in needing to get things just right – to lay out a map for everything we do in our business and in our lives. The next brilliant step – instead of a map, use a compass! I love the comparison of a map versus a compass. I’ve been the go-to for so many things both in work and in personal life, and it always seems to come back to this – there is no right path. Life is such a journey – and we all forge our own way. A compass simply gives us a general direction, but allows for you to take your own turns along the way.
It’s so easy to get bogged down by the details and lose sight of the forest for all the trees. In an age of information-overload, sometimes we need to put down the instruction manual and get back in touch with ourselves. We run the risk of looking outward so much that we forget how to trust our own intuition. Intuition, like a compass, is a powerful guide. Being connected to ourselves and our surroundings, paying attention to what is going on inside of us and the external world is so important. We lose sight of that when we are simply looking for someone else to show us the way.
That being said, maps are created for a reason. How incredible that people forge their own path, yet also take the time to invest in sharing their wisdom with others! Every map has the power of being tested before, and I highly encourage you to educate yourself and explore the many “maps” out there – by reading, researching, talking and exploring with others…never stop learning about the many roadmaps of life out there.
Back to my journey now… in all my advice giving and child-rearing, I’ve researched a lot. From my college days with Early Education, Marriage and Family studies, and Psychology to the books I’ve read the the people I’ve met, I’ve gotten to experience many viewpoints and many “maps” on life that have worked. I’ve spent the past decade sharing both maps and compasses. I love to share resources with people, and engage them in learning about new things. I also love helping people see things with new eyes, revitalize relationships and gain confidence in their own intuition. And now…I’m reminded how easy it is to rely only on a map. As much as I want to trust my gut and enjoy the direction with only a compass, I can get stuck in a rut and second-guess my path. I want a tried and true shortcut that just gets me where I want to be. But in the journey of life, there are no tried and trues. Each person must forge their own way, and, even if they are headed in the same direction, their map would look completely different.
I think, for all people, there are times we need a map, and there are times we need a compass. When you are new in a venture – in work, marriage, parenting, etc. there are so many incredible resources, or maps, that have been set up to share wisdom. Soak up books, listen to podcasts, and talk to mentors in their areas of expertise. Pour over maps and learn the ropes. But let me take you back to the people. There are roadmaps to successful principles in marriage and parenting, but throw in the wild card of individual personalities, and you know that no step-by-step will plot your family perfectly.
At this point, when you know best practices, your head is brimming with positive ideas to make a relationship or a business work, you have the map and the resources to fall back on – now you need to let it go. This is the scary part. Relationships always require a leap of faith in order to make a connection. No matter how many maps you’ve studied, it doesn’t guarantee that the other person knows it. People don’t connect because a book says they should. It’s something deeper. It’s that compass that shows a synergy in the same direction. It’s the intuition that says “this feels right.” And that is a powerful thing.
So for today, this is my challenge – to myself, and to you:
- Close your eyes and silence your mind. Take a deep breath, and sit in solitude – even if just for a minute.
- Go through your senses. What do you hear, smell, taste, touch and see? When was the last time you thought of that – closing your eyes and relishing the taste of a divine combination of foods, smelling the freshly cut grass, seeing a moment of intense concentration in a toddler’s eye as she tackles something new, stopping and simply holding your child or your partner in a warm embrace…
- Savor the moment and awaken your sixth sense. I believe we all have the ability to not only see elements of the future, but more deeply connect to others on a level beyond the surface. Trust your intuition. It’s been proven time and time again that when we heed that deep feeling in our gut, nine times out of ten it was a good thing.
- Carve your own path. Move forward. Check the maps, but ensure you heed your intuition as well. The direction you want to go, many may have gone before, but none have walked in your shoes.
Try out a compass and see which way it leads you. It may simply lead you deeper within.