Last night my daughter and I set out across our backyard onto the local 18-hole golf course under the light of an almost full moon. We were in search of a fountain that I'd discovered a few weeks back. We were also completing the last requirement of her Girl Scout music merit badge: listening to the music of nature.
We had sturdy shoes and a flashlight but having been to the pond before, I knew it was just a short walk there and back so I took no other tools or provisions.
We located the pond and marveled at its beauty by the light of the moon and our small flashlight. The grass was wet due to recent heavy rains so we didn't dally but rounded the pond and headed home. I thought.
We enjoyed the sounds of birds andand crickets and locust and whatever other creatures shared their song and we talked about the summer vacation that was just ending. We sang and whistled and hummed our way around the course not realizing, immediately, that we were not heading home.
Soon, however, the truth became apparent to both of us – we were lost. In the dark. Surrounded by really big trees!
I replayed our direction in my mind and took some comfort in the fact that we'd found a golf cart path and stayed on it as we headed in some random direction.
In the distance I could see lights, but without my glasses (yep – I really left without any tools at all) I couldn't tell if they were homes, apartments or streetlights. Any of those clues would have helped guide our path.
As we continued on I asked my daughter, a Junior Girl Scout, what we SHOULD have brought with us.
A map, she said instantly, and a compass. Ah, yes. Perhaps also my phone to call for help.
Eventually – 90 minutes later – we did find our way back home and now in the light of day I reflect on the lessons we learned.
- How much shorter might our journey have been if we'd been adequately prepared?
- How much quicker would we have been able to right our path if we'd headed to the closest light and asked for help?
- What more would we have learned if we'd charted our path in advance rather than just heading in a random direction?
It's like our business. Without a plan, we can flounder on the path to success. Without a compass, we can travel in the wrong direction for long periods of time unnecessarily. Without asking for help, we again take longer to reach our goal than is necessary.
Here was my thought process last night: I'm on the golf path – eventually it will lead to the club house and from there I can easily find our home. What I didn't know was that the path turned in multiple directions taking me close to my destination and then further away without me ever knowing how close I'd come to home. I made an assumption that caused our journey to take far longer than it needed to.
Luckily we were able to laugh throughout the process – and we enjoyed our time together and my daughter kept saying what a fun adventure we were having; but in business when the desire is to reach our goal, to reach our customers, to achieve the financial success necessary for another day – we need to plan more effectively.
So are you on the golf cart path assuming you'll eventually find the club house? Or do you have a compass and a map that will effectively guide you to your desire destination?
Deborah Chaddock Brown
Writer, Hopelessly Lost