Before the days of GPS devices, my glove compartment was stuffed with area maps, and I consulted them to navigate the roadways. When planning vacations, I pored over printed maps to plot my route from one point of interest to the next. I recall being assigned the role of navigator on family trips and hunching over a map with my flashlight at night to help my father locate an upcoming turn. Also, I remember map-folding being somewhat of an elusive art…I could never quite refold the map along its original creases.
Back then, traveling with a tour guide was particularly nice because you no longer had to lug around stacks of printed maps in order to get where you wanted to go. Instead, you could simply follow the tour guide. He or she had made the trip before and could be trusted to lead you in the right direction.
Our Misguided Notion of Self-Help
When it comes to personal growth, most of us are stuck in the roadmap mentality. We scour the Internet in search of the trendiest exercise fad, or we rifle through shelves at the local bookstore to find the perfect diet plan. In attempting to make changes in our lives, we follow a strategy of self-help. The process usually is fairly simple:
• Read a book
• Apply its principles
• Experience change
However, the self-help method calls for a heavy dose of discipline, and we often don’t have enough willpower to actually apply what we learn to our lives.
The primary problem with a strategy of self-help is that it is pursued in isolation. If we’re serious about making adjustments in our lives, then we would be wise to track down a tour guide instead of accumulating more maps. We need people at our side to show us the way in order to reach our desired destinations in life.
In leadership, “tour guides” contribute to our personal growth in four ways:
1) Expertise: they share insights with us from their own leadership journeys.
2) Encouragement: they provide much-needed motivation.
3) Accountability: they check-in on us to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.
4) Celebration: They rejoice with us when we reach significant milestones.
Make a list of your top goals or New Year’s resolutions for 2012. Beside each item on the list, write the name of at least one person who could help you achieve the goal. Over the next few weeks, connect with the individuals on your list and enlist them to travel alongside you over the course of the next year as you pursue your goals.