When I was 16 years old, I went to spend three weeks in Wales on an outward bound course doing things like hiking the hills, swimming in freezing lakes and carrying logs round assault courses. While it doesn’t sound much fun, and to be fair some parts of it weren’t, I had a great time, learnt a lot, made some friends and managed to achieve things I didn’t think I had it in me to achieve.
The highlight of the three weeks, for me, was a solo expedition. Just me alone for 12 hours in the Welsh hills trying to stay alive without being eaten by wild animals or falling down a ravine. Looking back it seems quite easy, but as a city-dwelling teenager, it was quite a daunting tasks.
To make matters worse, we were dropped off at one location with just a grid reference for another location where we would be picked up in 12 hours time. All we had in the way of navigation aids were a compass and a strip of map just 1 km wide with the pick-up and drop off points at either end. A tiny ribbon of map just 1 kms wide and 15 kms long. In 12 hours, most of which was in darkness, we had to get to the rendez vous point without straying for the narrow map. Whatever was in our way, lakes, hills, roads or rivers, we had to negotiate without drifting off the map and getting lost in the Welsh wilderness.
In case you were wondering I made it in plenty of time to get some sleep, cook up some breakfast and enjoy the solitude. It was fun, but what would have made the trip easier is a wider map. If I’d have been given the full O/S map I could have plotted a much easier route around most of the obstacles. With a few miles on either side of the little strip I was given, I could have found bridges and flatter paths to make the journey less arduous.
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.Paul J. Meyer
I sometimes feel that life and business are similar. We know where we are trying to get to. We understand where we are starting from, but we insist on working with a very narrow strip of map. We become blinked to the route we want to take when perhaps if we spent a little time expanding the width of the map and creating options the journey would be far less treacherous.
Perhaps one of the things we should be doing in business is widening our map. When faced with big obstacles maybe we should be looking to travel sideways a little to find an easier route. We can always shuffle back to our original route once we’ve bypassed the difficult obstacles.
So next time you’re facing a tough time, think about how you can widen the map by creating options and alternatives to get around, rather than over the toughest obstacles.