Of Maps And Men

Julie and I had a recent conversation about her time as a high school sophomore in Southbury, Connecticut.

But I realized during our talk that I had no concept of where within Connecticut you could actually find Southbury.

(Even worse, I realized I couldn’t place the town of Bristol in Connecticut, and if you love ESPN as I do, you should know exactly where Bristol is located.)

So what did I do?

Got out my trusty Atlas, put on my reading glasses, and studied a map of Connecticut.  For the next 20 minutes, I was perfectly content and deep in exploration.

I love maps.  Reading them, following them, learning from them.  When I am heading on a trip, for example, I’ll get the map, chart the course, and follow it as closely as I can.

Which makes me a dinosaur, of course.

In this age of GPS devices, following a map — much less reading one — is a lost art. 

My 20something children would tell me it is an unnecessary art.  Why bother looking up how to get somewhere when the machine will simply tell you how to do it?  Turn by turn navigation!

Except isn’t there something sad about the ability to travel from one place to another — and yet not really “see” where you have come from or where you are going to? 

That if you just follow directions “turn by turn” but are too busy/complacent/intimidated to check the bigger picture — THE MAP — you’re missing out on a vital part of the journey?  I think so.

There’s a life lesson there for sure. 

Focusing so closely on the small steps — especially when someone else is telling you which ones to take! — can obscure the bigger picture.

Take the small steps carefully.  And well.  But do so knowing the larger perspective of where your life and your leadership is headed.

And just for fun, pull out a map every once in awhile and read it.