We have officially completed our series on “Ten Things I Learned” throughout my career (so far). If you haven’t seen it — check out the archive. And as every (good) thing which comes to an end, there should always be an encore. Therefore, I present you lesson number eleven from the ten things I learned: There Are No Maps.
Now, of course, there are maps. As a matter of fact, there are countless maps — and everybody presents you one (myself, I guess, included). Every business book is a map, as is every “how to do X” article, tweet storm, or YouTube video.
The challenge with maps are two-fold: Firstly, maps tend to be incomplete. In medieval times, mapmakers allegedly inscribed the phrase “Here Be Dragons” on their maps showing unknown regions.
This is doubly true for the business and leadership maps you receive today — with the caveat that most people don’t even bother to point out the parts of their incomplete maps…
But the much bigger problem with maps is that they are typically never yours. Yes, there might be maps, and yes, they might have dragons — but they are also always someone else’s maps. Specific to the person who drew the map, they are often anchored in experiences and circumstances tied to the mapmaker. All which rarely translate one-on-one to you, your circumstances, and your situation.
That is all to say — be careful, be skeptical, and never ever take anything at face value but ask yourself how to apply the insight and knowledge to your own world.
There is lots to be learned from others — but it needs the context only you can provide.