You Have to Know Which Way to Go to Get Where you Want to End up or TRUST YOUR COMPASS

life coaching, authenticity blog

“Shit” I cursed under my breath as I saw the fading light in the cloudy sky. It was a cold late October evening in the great Northern woods. I was 15 to 20 minutes away from losing the last cloud-covered streaks of daylight and I was not really sure just where the hell I was.

“This could be a long night Thomas you goof” I muttered to myself. I had already been hunting since early that afternoon and had explored well beyond the normal hunting range we frequented. I was in some territory that did not have any of the comforting landmarks of areas I had hunted for years.

“Just had to see what was over that next ridge didn’t you” I berated myself quietly. Now I had to orient myself and determine where the hell I was or more importantly which direction camp was in.

I was NOT looking forward to the cold dark hike back to camp since I did not really know how far away I was. For reference I am a very experienced outdoorsman and have no fear of the bush. I have played and hunted in the great outdoors since I was a tyke. I quickly noted that if worse came to worse I would find shelter, build a fire and hunker down for the night ……. Not my favorite option.

I pulled out my compass to get oriented for the quickest way through the dense bush to the camp.

“Well that can’t be right” I thought to myself as I looked at the magnetic needle of my compass pointing North. “I am very sure that North is that way” I thought to myself as I pointed about 120 degrees off in a different direction. With no sun or moon evident in the cloudy night sky I did not have them to give me a frame of reference.  

The icy fingers of doubt crept down my spine and gave me a chill. For the first time in my life my inherent sense of direction and my compass did not match. “How is that possible” I thought to myself. I have an awesome inherent sense of direction and have learned to trust it over the many years of hunting and exploring in the back woods. I have pointed North and then cross-referenced it by pulling out my compass hundreds of times. It has always matched up…… until now!  

The harsh reality of overnighting in the bush was starting to take shape in my mind. I knew I would inevitably be fine if I did have to stay out overnight but I was not relishing the idea. Plus my dad, brother and the rest of the hunting party would be worried sick. Nope I thought to myself, I have to get moving. But which direction?

I knew from reviewing the maps earlier in the day at camp that I was basically Southeast of the camp. Therefore I needed to move Northwest to get back to camp. Easy concept but ……. Which way was Northwest? Which way do I go?

It was a tough decision but I ultimately chose to rely on my compass. I took a sight picture on the next big ridge, got a Northwest bearing from my compass and started moving my feet. For clarity I was no longer hunting …… I was hauling ass and very very quickly.

Once on the crest of that ridge I took another compass bearing and pressed on Northwest. The shadows were deepening all around me. Despite my experience in the bush I couldn’t help but feel just a little uneasy.

Once down off of that ridge I noticed a creek that looked like it opened up into a beaver meadow. Knowing the light would be better out from under the tree cover and that if the meadow was dry I would make better time, I headed for it. You cannot believe the smile that crept onto my face as I stepped into the meadow and recognized the first familiar landmark I had seen in hours.

I did get back to camp that night, albeit a little later than usual. With the exception of being a little tired and desiring a drink of something stronger than water, I was none the worse for wear.  However I cemented in a great lesson that day that continues to serve me well in life and business.


It will guide you in the right direction. You still have to move your feet and cover the ground or do the work but at least you are heading in the right direction.

What is your compass? How do you know you are moving in the right direction? Do you have those guidance mechanisms built into your life and business to ensure you are moving in the right direction? Do you reference them regularly and course correct?

We call them our purpose, mission and values at our company and they guide us through the inevitable topsy turvy ride we call our business expression. They have never steered us wrong and I know they never will.

We all have things we want to accomplish and places we want to go in our lives to live a life of significance. Trust your “compass” and get there safely and as efficiently as possible. The world is counting on your to fulfill your role in this life as it impacts so many other lives.