My pastor Joe Coffey has written a few awesome books. A Cup of Inspiration, Red Like Blood and Smooth Stones. In his book A Cup of Inspiration pg. 12 is titled “Bending the Map” As I started reading this story I was reflecting back on struggles I’ve been through in my life. (Don’t worry, this isn’t a woe is me story, we all have struggles, it’s whether we learn from them that matters.) In his story Joe quotes a paragraph from a book called “Deep Survival”. Bear with me, I know, a quote of a quote out of a book. Anyways, here’s the quote:
“Psychologists have observed that one of the most basic human needs, beginning at birth, is to be gazed upon by another. Mothers throughout the world have been observed spending long periods staring into the eyes of their babies with a characteristic tilt of the head. To be seen is to be real, and without another to gaze upon us, we are nothing. Part of the terror of being lost stems from the idea of never being seen again.”
After this Joe goes on to say:
“The fear is so great that people who feel like they may be lost begin to do what experts call “bending the map.” A hiker has a map but the map no longer matches up with the environment they find themselves in. They are lost. But instead of admitting that to themselves they begin to question the map. They are trying to make the world (their environment) conform to them instead of them conforming to the world.”
As I read this I became fascinated and very interested in application to my life. I don’t know if you do this, but when I read something that may apply to my life, or I think I could learn from it I process it through my life experiences. Think of it kind of like there is a couple guys in my brain sitting in bean bag chairs eating Cheetos with a stack of manuals next to them. When I need them, the jump up, brush the orange powder off their laps and start thumbing through the manuals looking for answers. When they are satisfied they give me a “true of false” on what I just heard or read. After they processed this one I got 4 orange thumbs up. These manuals are like my map. Keep this in mind, it will come in handy later.
I like to game hunt, so as I thought back to tracking animals, I remember being in the mountains of Colorado, in the middle of nowhere tracking a Mule Deer I shot with an arrow earlier in the morning. As I focused on the tracks I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. When I finally looked around I realized I had no clue where I was at. The excitement of harvesting an animal was overtaken by, “Uh Oh”. The forest all looks the same and when we get scared our brains even trick us. We will start to second guess whether we have seen things before. I had to calm myself down, look at my map and spend a little time figuring out where I was. I had to trust my map! So what Joe was saying was starting to make a lot of sense.
After these thoughts ran through my little pea brain, my buds in the bean bag chairs yelled down and said “Hey moron, compare this to your business results.”
In an earlier blog I already told you about a couple decades that I tried the success by the hard work alone method. It dawned on me that the whole time I was just bending my map to meet my environment. Instead of giving my friends with the bean bag chairs a desk and some new manuals, I just relied on the same old manuals I gave them in high school. There were pages missing, some whole manuals were gone. (I think that happened from some of the keggers in college. I always thought success was having a talent and using that talent to make money. If you were blessed to be really good at it then you made more money. That was my map I was using. I tried to leverage the map I had by doing more of the same and working harder until I met Steve and he showed me a paradigm shift in thinking. He started giving me better information. Showing me a better map. Rewriting the manuals and giving my friends a desk. He introduced my wife Mary and I to a number of couples that already had their better maps and were moving towards their goals and dreams. It felt like being lost in the woods kidding myself, using a map off the back of Captain Crunch, (no offense, you’re still my favorite snack Cap’n) and being handed an up to date GPS with tracking back to my truck. Books like Talent is Overrated by Geoff Covin and The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson opened my eyes. Launching a Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady gave me the tools to set down, figure out a reference point of where I was at. That way I wasn’t fooling myself or “bending my map” anymore. I know, for myself, until I quit kidding myself that I knew it all and that I was accountable for where I was at in life, I wasn’t going to get any different results. In the recesses of my mind, I knew I was disoriented, but I couldn’t handle admitting to myself that I was lost until I trusted my new source of info for my manuals in my head. And resisting the temptation to bend my map is a constant battle. That’s why I meet with a mentor now. Someone I trust that once he asks me a couple perspective questions, he can tell me “Nate, you’ve been running around in circles for a week. stop and look that way!”
I don’t claim to be a Bible scholar, although it is something I’m trying to work on, but Joe listed a verse for reflection that I think also applies here: Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
God Bless, Nate