‘Have you made this mistake?’ by Barry Jackson

One of the things on which I pride myself is my ability to find my way around unfamiliar places using no more than my sense of direction. I’ve lost count of the number of occasions I’ve been able to find my way back to my car with almost unerring accuracy with little more to go on. Whether I’m travelling around the country or taking a walk in the countryside, I hardly ever get lost. I may get off course, but I know where I am; and as long as you know where you are in relation to where you’re trying to get to, you always know how to get back on course don’t you? But did you note that term: hardly ever? There’s a lesson in that term and I was reminded of it only the other day. 

Jenny and I had set off on a walk in an area I know pretty well. I intended to bring the Ordinance Survey map with me but, on the way, I realised I’d left it at home, and I couldn’t be bothered to go back for it. After all, our planned walk was in an area I know well. That was mistake number one.

I parked the car and we set off, planning a circular route of about 3 miles. The first clue that we might be off course was when we had walked a distance of approximately 5 miles, we were nowhere near the car and I had no idea where we were! It hardly ever happens but my internal Satnav, the one I carry between my ears, the one I find almost infallible, had let me down very badly that day. Jenny has also come to rely on it, so it was all rather humiliating. That was mistake number two.

After a short debate, Jenny insisted that we retrace our steps to a turning we should have taken several miles further back. Up until then, I’d been focussing all my attention on the direction we were heading; which turned out to be the wrong direction. No sooner had we turned around than I picked out several landmarks, which, had I taken the trouble to inspect the entire landscape, would have told me that we were walking in the opposite direction from where the car had to be. That was mistake number three. 

The most stupid thing of all was that I had been a little uneasy all along, that  landmarks which should have been there had been absent all along. That was mistake number four.

A distance of 8 miles is well within our comfort zone, but the fact remained that the plan had been 3 miles not 8! 

But the lessons are obvious, and they also apply to all aspects of running a business including the advice you listen to from coaches and consultants.

  1. Know your destination.
  2. Carry a map and use it.
  3. Familiarise yourself with the landmarks that tell you whether you’re on course or not.
  4. Don’t ignore “gut feelings” that warn you that you might be going the wrong way! 
  5. Don’t rely absolutely on anything, just because it has almost always worked before!

May 2021 be a year of health, happiness and prosperity for all of you.

Barry Jackson.
Founder/Director: Aspire Academy – aspire-academy.net