Stranger in a Strange Land
It occurred to me the other day while driving to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Arizona that it’s kind of rare for people to get truly lost these days. Between built-in GPS’s, Google maps in our smart phones and an array of other technological advancements, getting really lost is a bit of an adventurer’s achievement.
I try not to subject my friends and family to my proclivity for hazarding guesses in strange places, yet I found myself enjoying the challenge in Phoenix. I had a folded-up map and figured it was enough to get me to where I wanted to go.
The route from Scottsdale to Phoenix also seemed to be pretty straightforward and I had allowed ample time to return my rental car and still catch the shuttle to the airport.
Quick backstory that’s relevant: I was in Scottsdale for my first on-site Equus coach training with Koelle Simpson (Click here to learn more about her and her work– www.koelleinc.com ). Koelle was actually my introduction to life coaching after I wrote about her and her work in State College Magazine a few years ago. (www.statecollegemagazine.com).
I had just completed a weekend of training with Koelle and some other coach-trainees and was headed to the airport. I felt full of new information and skills and was wildly curious about all we had learned.
So when I left Scottsdale I glanced at the map and decided that once-over was enough info. I’d simply give it a go and see if I could find my way back to the car rental return.
My little adventure was going just fine until I hit an intersection where I had to choose which route to take. I took a quick glance at the map, which seemed to indicate I should head left, but I had a gut feeling that I should go right.
And what did I do? I let my logical mind step in and I went left. Even after a weekend of learning how to dial into my gut feelings, I was supremely convinced in that moment that my instincts were wrong.
Heading down the highway, I had the growing sense I had made a mistake. The further I drove, the more the feeling grew. Finally, after a few miles, I pulled off to the side of the road and grabbed my map. Comparing street names and route numbers, I could see I had gone in the opposite direction of the airport. But how I misread that? Here’s how: My map was folded and the stretch of intersecting highways I was actually on—roads that loop around and sort of horseshoe the city—were not showing on the side of the map I had been referring to; they were on the other side.
It really wasn’t a big deal to turn around and head down the right road, but I think there was also a message in this for me. I have driven just one other time in the Phoenix area, and I got lost then too. It’s not that it’s a complicated road system; it’s actually fairly straightforward. But I had so let my logical mind literally take the steering wheel that I didn’t even consider that my intuition could possibly be right. That I should go right and not left in the moment of that decision, simply because it “felt” like the right choice, wasn’t good enough feedback.
How often has this happened to you? More importantly, are you aware when you do disregard your more-often-than-not gut feeling about a situation, a place or a person? And if so, why? Why do we all frequently brush aside our own very-powerful and often-accurate inner GPS’s?
I can say that I’ve ignored my own intuition more than enough at this point in my life. The experience in Phoenix drove that point home to me and now I’m aware of it. And being aware of that tendency means I can also actively make a different choice the next time.
And that’s learning my friends. That’s the kind of personal growth that empowers us to act more and more powerfully for ourselves. In work. At home. At play. And even, if you’re feeling more than a bitdaring, in a strange land with just a folded up map.
P.S. If you’re interested in Koelle’s work, you can take 15 minutes and watch her talk about it in this TEDx San Diego talk she did late last year. Powerful stuff, I tell ya.
Click here for Koelle’s talk on TEDx
“The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have.” ~John Locke
personal development and Equus coach, former Penn State journalism instructor and professional writer.