But You've Still Got the Wrong Map

The path to happiness and success can be riddled with all sorts of peril, confusion, and frustration. No one ever said that life was easy, but to navigate through these complexities, it probably pays to have an accurate road map. This way, you know which way is forward, which way is back, and which way could lead you to fruitless diversions. That sounds like a good idea, but many of us tend to focus on quick-fix solutions rather than looking at the big picture.

By only paying attention to the minor details, you can easily lose sight of the grander scheme of things. What do I mean by this? The quick-fix solutions that we hear about may tell us to adjust our behaviors slightly or try to alter our attitudes just a smidge to accommodate the current situation. These may provide for temporary relief, but they do not address the bigger, fundamental issues. It’s like you’re holding the wrong map.

Mapping the Wrong City is Useless

This concept comes from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, a book that I’ve owned for some time but have only gotten around to reading now. Covey provides a useful analogy to explain the difference between these quick-fix solutions and making a foundational change to how we approach life’s challenges.

Let’s say that you are in New York and you want to get from your hotel to the Empire State Building. You take out your map, but it happens to be a map for Chicago. As you can imagine, the Chicago map isn’t going to do you much good.

You could try the quick-fix solutions: try reading the map harder and look for something that’ll lead you in the right direction; try rotating the map and viewing it in different angles to gain a new perspective; try adjusting your attitude so that you aren’t quite as frustrated at being lost. However, all of these so-called “solutions” will still leave you lost in the big city.

Making the Fundamental Shift in Perspective

It doesn’t matter what you do with this Chicago map, because it won’t provide you with the right directions to the Empire State Building. The only way that you can get the right directions is if you make a fundamental change, abandoning the Chicago map for one of New York. This is the same idea when it comes to finding personal success and personal happiness.

If you subscribe to a useless paradigm for your purposes (Chicago map), it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much you adjust your attitude. You need to make that foundational change and seek out a new way to approach life (New York map).

Quick Fixes Are Temporary at Best

Yes, you may be able to stumble into some success with the wrong map and this could reinforce your existing perspectives, but these are accidental and coincidental. Getting the right map and devising the right directions is the only way that you’ll be able to transcend your dreams and turn them into a reality. Get the right map and stop trying to fix the wrong map.