Sometimes the Road Map Isn’t Enough

I have a confession.

I don’t drive.

That’s not the confession though, it’s quite a bit more embarrassing.

Since I don’t drive, I’ve finally decided to attempt learning the local bus system. (And no, I’ve never lashed myself to the seats with bungee cords, though I do find the lack of seatbelts disconcerting.)

Reading a bus schedule should be taught in school.  I’ve never used Calculus in real life, but knowing how to read this crazy map of routes and times, now that would have been helpful.

An early attempt had me moving around the city in a circle in the wrong direction for… well, a while.  But that little adventure did confirm that if you stay on the bus long enough it’ll eventually end up where you want to go.  I stress the eventually.

But a few weeks ago I got really brave and decided I’d take my kids downtown for a “field trip.”

It seemed like such a simple plan.  I highlighted on the map where I thought needed to go, and armed with my plan we sprinted to the bus stop and were on our merry way.

About an hour later, I realized we were completely lost.  Somehow I’d gotten on a bus going the right direction, but the wrong bus, and so when I counted stops and watched for road signs we ended up in the wrong place.

There I was, holding my map, and trying to figure out where we were.  I’d also aimed for the wrong building.  (I told you this was embarrassing!)

What did I do wrong?

I tried to interpret the map all by myself.  I thought I knew where I was going.  And I didn’t ask for help.

Map reading (and directions in general) just isn’t one of my strengths.  Now, tell me there’s a coffee shop nearby and I can find that by following the lovely smell of coffee.  But anything else, I’m basically hopeless.

This is a lesson I’ve been learning over and over again in my business the past few years.  Know my strengths and weaknesses.

Yes, there are maps.  Yes, we can buy blueprints.  But even armed with those tools we can get lost if we try to do it completely on our own.

What works?  The voice of experience.  The guidance of someone who understands where we’re at, where we want to be, and can help us get from A to B without wasting time going in the wrong direction, or getting off at the wrong stop.

Lately I’ve been asking more questions and getting more help.  Turns out, sometimes the “destination” (goal) I thought I wanted to get to wasn’t right for the bigger picture of my business.  Just think how much time and energy could be wasted in the pursuit of the wrong goal…

I called a taxi to get us home that evening.  It was wonderful to just sit back, relax, and depend on the driver to know exactly how to get back to Starbucks (from where I can safely find my way home–after that morning, we all deserved coffee and hot chocolates).

Why didn’t I call a taxi in the first place?  My kids love the adventure of riding on the bus.

Me, I’m not so big on that kind of adventure…

Image Credit: kevinrosseel/morguefile

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  1. Oh my. Play to your strengths I say and thank goodness for sat nav and taxi drivers or I’d get dizzy. LOL
    Ruth Crone recently posted… Gratitude is good for businessMy Profile

    1. I’ve had a few of those dizzy moments… LOL
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 15 Easy Ways Your Business Can Go Earth FriendlyMy Profile

  2. So funny and so true. I’ve had a number of similar experiences, but keep needing to learn the lesson.
    Thanks for the reminder…
    Linda Luke recently posted… Crisis! Your 5 Step Plan for Survival when Your World is RockedMy Profile

    1. Life does keep repeating those lessons… even after we learn them I think it keeps testing, just to me sure. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… What Makes You Come Alive?My Profile

  3. I grew up in New York City (in a family without a car, which wasn’t that uncommon in NYC back in the 50’s and 60’s) using what must be the most convoluted and confusing mass transit system in the United States – so I feel your pain. I have no sense of direction either – my spouse tells me I consistently head in the wrong direction when leaving a building every time. Know your strengths and weaknesses indeed. At least you are a wonderful blogger and inspiration!
    Alana recently posted… Here’s The ThingMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Alana. I can’t imagine the NYC transit system. I would be very lost!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 15 Easy Ways Your Business Can Go Earth FriendlyMy Profile

  4. So bad, your whole day plan goes into vain. :( Whenever I go out, I always prefer to use taxi as it’s a best way to reach your destination without any headache and saves your time as well. But life without adventure is always dull and boring, currently I’m learning to swim and it’s a real adventure for me right now. :)
    Aasma recently posted… MLM Software Development CompanyMy Profile

    1. Life is an adventure, that’s for sure. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… What Makes You Come Alive?My Profile

  5. Michelle what an adventure and sharing it with your kids- what fun even though you took the long way it will be remembered fondly by all in coming years! Glad you took the chance and went. And as Aasma stated above, life would be boring without them.

    1. Yes, it does keep life interesting!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Which Social Networks Will Best Showcase YOU as an Expert?My Profile

  6. As another NYC native (hi, Alana–that’s my daughter’s name but SHE grew up in rural MA where I live now), I thrive on public transit, rarely take cabs even when I’m traveling. Wish we had more of it here. I still get a thrill form standing in the front car and looking out the window as we rush down the tracks. Too bad a lot of newer trains don’t give a view anymore.

    I remember visiting someone in Chicago, modifying the subway route he gave me to save time, and when I told him he said “how did you know to do that? Only the natives know that trick?” I said, “I was in Athens last week. Chicago’s subway map is in English.”

    And I remember both my kids were into buses at various points. When we were in Cardiff, Wales, we took a double-decker just to make Alana (then 3-1/2) happy, and that confused the driver because it was a zone system and he didn’t know how much to charge us.

    Michelle, we have different skills. I throw up my hands with website coding challenges you don’t even blink at. But give me a transit system and a map, and I’m happy.
    Shel Horowitz – Green/Ethical Marketing Expert recently posted… Health Care Without Environmental Harm: What a Concept!My Profile

    1. I remember riding the cable cars in San Francisco as a kid and it was amazing. Here the only cable car goes to the top of a mountain (and I’ve been brave enough to ride that only once each way).

      Never been on a double-decker bus but I’m sure my kids would love that, too, if we ever spot one to ride.

      Perhaps that’s a service you could offer — people send you scans of their route maps and you explain them… *grin* I cannot image trying to decipher one that isn’t in English!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Sometimes the Road Map Isn’t EnoughMy Profile

  7. Hi Michelle, easy to read your post. I know the experience, not for me but for someone close. I have the skill, and I do not know why, to learn every city where I move quickly and easy. I was born in La Habana, move to Caracas, move to Guantanamo, move to Miami, move to Louisville, move to Albuquerque. move to Orlando, and move back to Miami. I know a lot of all those city.
    Juan G Garcia recently posted… Never Forget to Get Your Computer’s Backup.My Profile

    1. That’s a valuable skill to have. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Free Software for Online Business OwnersMy Profile

  8. That really did not turn out to great for you. I thought by the end of the article you would tell how you had mastered the buses and could get to any portion of town on the fastest route. Those things must be pretty confusing though.
    Steven Papas recently posted… Webhosting PlansMy Profile

    1. If only… :)

      For me the lesson was in how that illustrated what we often do in our businesses. Trying to figure it out on our own can send us in circles, taking more time, and ending up in the wrong place. But a good guide can really accelerate our success and make sure we get where we want to go.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Attract More Clients (Free Webinar)My Profile

  9. I agree with the author that even if you’re packed with different online tools if you’re not using it in a very good way then you’d probably be at risk. Use wisely what you have right now so that you can fulfill your set goals and get the way to success.

  10. Brilliant comparison between business and your busventure. Someone with skills may lack the knowledge on how to maximize them. Someone with knowledge may not know how to reach their audience. The other day my son and I went to Ikea and his GPS gave him a route that would have taken us there but exposed us to a lot of traffic. I know the area well and was able to tell him how to get there in less time and less traffic.

    Sometimes a coach or teacher can help you get to your destination more quickly and easily.

    Thought stimulating post


    Adalia John recently posted… Success Begins in Your MindMy Profile

  11. I drive and I get lost at least once per month, usually trying to come home from somewhere. What I have learned is that getting lost (and finding my way back) is simply stretching my knowledge of the state I live in (yes, the state, not the town, I sometimes get really lost). So every adventure is a learning experience.

    But, then again, it can be traumatic and leave you scarred at times (like the time I got lost, backwards, on top of a mountain in the snow) :)

    Gwen Tanner recently posted… What Do You Do If You Are Staring At a Blank Page?My Profile

  12. Hi Michelle,

    I would laugh at your adventures, but at the time I’m sure it was absolutely disconcerting. To you, that is. Kids love these misadventures.

    Because I live in So Ca where I drive everywhere, I’m inept when it comes to using public transportation. When I go to areas like San Francisco and Europe where public transportation is common and excellent, I can’t even buy the ticket without help. Then have to ask for help catching the one going the right direction.

    Fortunately, when applying this to business, I’ve also learned the value of getting help. As you pointed out, having the roadmap or blueprint isn’t enough. There are always things you need to know that can’t be adequately conveyed on the roadmap. Only someone who’s been there, done that can fill in the gaps and steer you to success.
    Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. recently posted… Book Writing: An Inside Look at a ChapterMy Profile

  13. What a great lesson learned from a long day of running around. I also have a lot of trouble reading maps so you have my sympathies. Thanks for the lesson in turning frustration into learning.
    Bonnie Anderson recently posted… Please Read This YesterdayMy Profile

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