If you know me at all, you know that, of the many gifts I was born with, a sense of direction is NOT included in that package. If you know me, you would never be foolish enough to give me directions in Norths or Souths. Tell me to turn lefty Lucy by the Marriott, but save us both the hassle of any “East side of the street” nonsense. I am all over the Never Eat Shredded Wheat approach to remembering the points of a compass, but for the love of all things holy, please do not ask me to navigate this way!? I’m certainly not bragging about this deficiency, nor am I entirely sure why I have never improved upon this skill (not for a lack of practice;). And the true irony is that I have spent my entire career in some form of territory sales. I drive for a living!? And I can’t find my way out of paper bag. At least not with the help of maps and compasses!
As you can imagine, when I moved to Portland, Oregon a few years ago, and had a territory stretching from the Pearl District to Sauvie Island, and beyond, I was in for quite an adventure. I grew up in Oregon, of course, but I had rarely ever driven in Portland, let alone had any sense for the bridges and the freeways. Oh mylanta, was that a challenge! I’ll never forget my first few weeks – my step-dad, Michael (lover of all things directional) set me up for success by getting me at least a dozen maps and even highlighted the important roads that I would take. He would have spent hours, if I’d had them, trying to suggest routes depending on time of day and traffic patterns. Something about the freeway, and such and such bridge, and the Willamette, or was it the Columbia River? Wow, was I overwhelmed, at best!?
I remember one day in particular, when I was heading into the heart of downtown Portland, one of my Michigan co-workers called to check in on me. During our short conversation, I crossed the same bridge twice, trying to get over to another bridge and ended up down by the Amtrak station (where zero of my stores were located;). As we were talking I kept saying, “oops, that was the wrong bridge…here we go again…oops, not that street…” I was laughing SO hard at myself. My co-worker was just plain worried about me, but I assured him – “every day I get lost, at least a dozen times. But every day, I get found!” And that became my motto. I didn’t sweat it when I crossed the wrong bridge, or took the wrong freeway (twice;), but I sure enjoyed the beautiful scenery – I was in awe daily that I lived in such a beautiful place, and I didn’t even mind getting “lost”. And before too long, I turned off my Garmin and just trusted my inner compass (if I even HAVE one;).
And that’s what I was reminded of in my move (that wasn’t) to Oregon. It feels good to be lost in the right direction, and ironically, when I’m the most “lost”, I feel closest to my true self. I learned SO much about myself in getting lost (literally and figuratively) for those nine months. I’m not at all afraid of questioning the path that I’m on – if a path doesn’t challenge us, change us and grow us, why would we take it!? I’ve never been a huge fan of the easy path, or the popular path – sure there are many people on it, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for me. And when I allow myself to struggle, and get a little lost, I always find that inner voice and compass that leads me back to my true North. So the next time you find yourself a little bit off the beaten path, instead of giving in to the fear and panic, try leaning in to the adventure. You might find yourself and your greater purpose, in the process of being “lost”.