I get lost sometimes. Whether I’m in a new building, a parking garage looking for my car, or out on the roadways, sometimes I make a wrong turn.
The other day I was on my boat fishing, and I noticed that the compass was cloudy and a little hard to read. I typically only fish when the weather is clear and it’s easy to navigate. Even at night, lights will guide me home. Sometimes though, the fog rolls in and I need the compass.
We all have an internal compass, something that keeps us heading in the right direction be that geographic, professional, moral, relational, or spiritual. We can’t see it, but we can feel it. That compass gets cloudy too.
Experience has its way of adding layers of opacity, gradually blurring what was once clear. The untrained mind, at times hesitant, at times easily fooled by its own want for certainty, can become lost in the forest of life. Autopilot replaces mindful consideration, and the wrong path is chosen. Add to that the constant buffeting by technology in the form of distraction, and the layers stack up, like another coat of shellac yellowing a once bright floorboard. Sometimes you have to strip it all down again. You have to reset.
Leaders, in particular, have a responsibility to keep their compass working properly, otherwise, they can lead people to the wrong place.
To maintain a compass on a boat, you need to ensure the compass bowl is topped up with liquid and that air bubbles are removed. The compass dial should be clear and free of any friction. Compasses on boats can lose function when there are localized magnetic anomalies or even when the ship’s cargo has magnetic qualities. The ship’s captain needs to be aware of these possible issues which can lead to misdirection, and the possibility of becoming – and staying – lost.
As captain of our own human ships, we too need to be aware of anomalies which may affect our internal compass. And we need to regularly maintain our compass, keeping it clean and working right.
The extent to which you are aware and self-reflective has a lot to do with the proper functioning of your compass. Non-judgmental self-awareness enables you to sense when you might be drifting off course. A check of the compass might reveal a slight – or major – malfunction.
Sometimes when I feel like my compass needs maintenance, I return to nature, stay still, and re-calibrate. I meditate; this an essential part of my practice. If you’re feeling knocked off course by the winds in life you might try sitting still in nature some evening. There, you might re-orient yourself to the lights across the bay, the easterly rise of the moon, the mountain peak on the horizon, or the north star, holding her position in the cosmos.
So remember to take some time, and take care for your compass.
Yours in practice,
p.s. – I’d love your feedback, just hit reply, and lemme know. And if you like this, please share it.