It seemed like a great idea at the time – a mad idea – but a great one in fairness – four friends would use the summer off college to drive from Dublin to Moscow.
Gar, Grif, Horse and Sam had known each other for years, indeed Gar and Grif’s dads had been best buddies back in the day and it was from them they got the idea. During an elongated bank strike in Ireland back in 1976, the two buddies (the dads) had themselves driven from Dublin to Moscow and had such good memories from it that their offspring decided to follow in their tyre tracks, roping in two hapless buddies for ‘the craic’ (pronounced crack – Gaelic slang for fun – known the world over but best used in the USA when asking a policeman is there anything going on – ‘any ‘craic’ Officer?’).
The year: 2007
The Car: Renault Scenic (circa 2,000)
The journey: Dublin to Moscow
The distance: 3,500 kms fastest route, probably 5,000 kms with sight seeing and meandering
The cast: Gar, Grif, Horse and Sam
The Navigator: Horse!
Horse is organised. Horse loves organisation. Horse does not love dis-organisation. Horse likes to be in control. Horse loves to be in charge. Horse does not love being a passenger.
So Horse was self-appointed and duly elected navigator – the lads didn’t care, they didn’t mind being drivers or passengers so long as Horse was doing the thinking. He told them what time to get up, what time they were leaving at, what roads to take, where they would park, sleep etc. Horse was happy. The lads were happy.
That is until they weren’t.
It happened one day – bound to happen at some stage – that the lads were not happy with Horse and this is why…
About half-way to Moscow, they left Linz and duly followed Horse’s leading and arrived on time as expected, at their destination, Dresden, about 400km’s away. He instructed they park up and take a walking tour of this wonderful city with its rich historical storyline, one chapter of which was when the Allied Forces flattened it through persistent aerial bombardment during WW2.
Knowing that very fact gave some credence to why Horse, for the fist time since they left Dublin, seemed to be struggling with his paper map (Google Maps/Sat Nav/Smart Phones were not a function of daily life in 2007) – the buildings just didn’t seem quite right, the street names unfamiliar, ‘Must’ve been the bombing’ said Horse, “I’ll know where I am when we get to the river.”
So, get to the river they did – four walking HOURS later, fit to ‘lose’ their friend in its flowing current. Within a few short minutes standing on its banks, Horse turning the map, this way and that, turning, pivoting, facing the river, then with his back to the water, etc, he gave up, threw his hands in the air and admitted, “Lads, I’m lost.” Amidst moans the map was swiped from his defeated hands and the other three looked to see if they could help.
To find out what happened next, watch the video (5 mins teaching), listen to the podcast (5 mins teaching) or read on below…
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It struck them almost immediately – they were at the river in Dresden alright – but the map? The map was a map of LINZ!
They had been following the leader; the leader had been following the wrong map! No wonder he couldn’t find anything, no wonder it all seemed unfamiliar.
They had walked for hours in the sweltering summer heat and it wouldn’t have matter if they had walked further, or for longer, or if they’d run or indeed if they’d stayed in the Scenic and driven – wouldn’t have mattered one jot, they would NEVER have found their way.
Hearing Grif tell the story recently I was struck by how much like life that is for many people. Many, many people are following a map given them by their parents, or society ‘you should be a blah…’ or a map they stumbled upon as a result of making a lazy decision aged seventeen about what college course to take and they wonder now why they are not where they thought they’d be in life, why they are not happy.
So they blame themselves, they blame luck, they work harder – that should fix it – no it didn’t, so they work longer – should be there now – nope, work harder AND longer – no joy, switch careers – nada. Nothing is working! “I’m at the river and I’m lost!”
Why is that?
I believe it is because they are following the wrong map.
How will you know what success (happiness/contentment) looks like if you haven’t decided in advance what it should look like? You won’t. You can’t.
The way to make sure you have the right map for your life is to stop driving/walking/running for a short while and take stock and ask yourself three questions:
- “Where am I headed? What is my 2020 Vision? How will I know when I have arrived? What does success for me (not my parents, not society, not my spouse, not my kids) look like?” and get very clear on that picture.
- The second question is, “Where am I today – honestly – relative to my destination?” and get equally clear and very honest about that picture.
- What are some way-points, (places I can perhaps take a short break, celebrate progress) some measurable milestones between where I am now and where I want to be?
The answers to these three questions will at very least arm you with the data required to make decisions about the next portion of your life. The answers will provide you with the correct map!
People who take the time out to reflect on the answers to these questions are then empowered to decide to do something about it or not do something about it but at least they know – at least they are not blaming their effort or lack of, luck or absence of.
By the way, most people still don’t ask themselves the three questions even though they nod in approval and say, yep, makes sense, good idea, I should… most still don’t. Why? No idea. Human nature I suppose. The gift of free will that sets us apart as a species from the animal kingdom.
My words aren’t for them. My words are for you.
Are you following the right map? If so, are you on track? If not, what are you going to do about it?
Our heroes, Gar, Grif, Horse and Sam, finally got the right map, enjoyed Dresden, and moved on safely to Moscow, had a blast and drove back.
Best of all, the four buddies back then are still buddies today.
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MORE. Some of the issues touched on above have been discussed in earlier “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:
- Defining your 2020 Vision. Click here.
- There’s more to life than paying bills and dying. Click here.
- How to escape the gravity of bad habits. Click here.
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