Mapping is a catch-all phrase covering many areas, but really comes back to visualising the relationships between things. Much discussion refers to the path or the end, rarely do we establish the importance of the starting point and its connection – to routes, destinations, and adjustments found.
In many aspects of life, we talk about maps or mapping. Far from cartography where the term originated, we map all sorts of things. Data, goals, relationships, threats, risks – all can be mapped in some form. Considering orienteering is becoming an increasingly lost art, what is the basis for concept mapping? What is often missing?
We use maps in our travels, seeing the relations between two places – all our paths leading to destinations from where we are. Much of our time is spent focusing on the end and how we get there (insert goals/ journeys not destinations clichés). Little attention is paid to where we are presently. We rarely reflect on our initial starting points, often considered a given, with the same rapt attention the near/ distant futures hold.
( I normally think of life as a game, but we’ll go with the journey description.)
Think of every time you look at a map. Where you are changes. You may be closer to your destination. You may have taken a wrong turn, adding distance and stealing time. Check again in ten minutes and you’ll be in a different place. The routes, distances, times all change based on where you presently are. This forces you (or Waze/ Google etc.) to assess or re-assess the options based on your current location.
Let’s apply that analogy elsewhere.
Each morning when I start my day, I start somewhere. Have to sort out my initial internal location. Changing circumstances force re-assessment. Perhaps there is a new route better suited. Perhaps there is something to uncover I’d not seen from where I was prior. Sometimes I need to simply pause; as I’ve not figured out where I am yet, or need to rest. I consider it a reflective test to ensure efforts are well suited and spent. Often I find I am in a different place than I anticipated – not necessarily better or worse, but certainly different.
Same goes for everyone else I encounter. They may be going similar places, but they all start from somewhere each day. Determining where they are coming from helps me understand them better, improving the chances we don’t throw obstacles in each other’s paths. Easy as it is to think less of others who run counter to me, they started somewhere and likely seek a different destination. Unless I have at least an idea of where they are now and where they are headed, it’s challenging dealing with the detour they present.
The question at any moment – whether directed to others or inward – is: where are you? Followed by: where are you looking to go? These are uncomfortable questions for people – both the asker and the asked must look deeper to answer. Both sides must be transparent, willingly sharing with the other in an attempt to chart better courses.
But the suggestion requires caution. Would you be willing to share where you are or the route you are taking? This is a more in-depth inquiry than “how are you?”, asking for more than dismissive “I’m fine.” Combine the concern of your own starting point with asking yourself if you care enough, or the other person warrants the effort required in understanding the answers to those questions. Plenty of people in our lives we do not want having that degree of insight, although not telling still tells them something.
Reserve your inquiry to valuable people and circumstances, or where follow-on action is anticipated. Taken seriously and treated with care, it gives potential for greater depth in making progress together.
I mean, honestly … we have to start somewhere.