Get Lost, For Everyone’s Sake (especially your own)
Like any good marketer, or business person, or just person in general, I have my favorite inspirational quotes (and I want to hear yours, so get ready to post in the comments). We all have our storehouse of excerpts, passages, or poetry that we draw from. But one particular quote stands above all of the rest for me, and that is what I want to share with you today. Every October, I reread Galway Kinnell’s “A Book of Nightmares”, and though I am arrested numerous times while reading his treasure, there is always one passage that stops me in my tracks. So much so, that it is permanently inked on my right arm (how’s that for tattoo passionate?). In the hopes that it will provide inspiration to you, I share it here:
And I walk out now,
in dead shoes, in the new light,
on the steppingstones
of someone else’s wandering,
in this foot or that saying
turn or stay or take
forty-three giant steps
I may have already lost
the way: the first step, the Crone
who scried the crystal said, shall be
to lose the way.
We could unpack this all day; However for my purposes here, I am most interested in the last five brilliant lines. I have often sat staring at a new project, a new client, or even just a new day, wondering to myself where in the world I am going and how will I ever get there. Truth be told, I’m facing this very question on a current project. When this happens, when I’m worried that I’m already lost even though I have yet to truly start, I remember the poem’s truth, that sometimes losing your way is the best path forward.
We spill a lot, and consume a lot, of virtual ink speaking, teaching, and preaching about our ideas of what works, best practices, tips and tricks, top ## lists, and on and on. And sometimes, that content is top-notch, stellar, and wholly inspirational. But other times, I would challenge you to simply make the effort to flush it all and get lost. I’m not suggesting that you go totally rogue and throw out the map entirely; getting lost doesn’t equal being irresponsible. The challenge, however, is to actively work at getting lost. Contrary though it may seem, it actually takes work; it’s not as easy as it sounds. You likely have a roadmap, a template, a calendar, a strategy, a guide, a playbook, etc. Again, I’m not suggesting you ignore these agreed-upon boundaries and guardrails, but I am suggesting that you find a way to do more than follow the rules. Work at getting lost, and you just might find a new way forward; you just might find a new way through the muck; and you might just find a new way.
The get-lost challenge reminds me of another of my favorite passages from “Nightmares”:
I long for the mantle
of the great wanderers, who lighted
their steps by the lamp
of pure hunger and pure thirst,
and whichever way they lurched was the way.
Though it sounds cliché, we are still in the early days of the web, and we are certainly in the infancy of digital and social marketing. Yes, we have great wanderers to look to, those who are writing the rules as they go. But they, like all of us, are defining the way simply by their movement. When hunger, and the opportunity to satiate it, appears to the south, we watch the larger narrative shift and make that turn with the rest of the crowd. There’s nothing wrong with that; I highly doubt you want be pushing yesterday’s buzz to your leadership team. But is it 100% right? Certainly not. Bring out your own hunger and thirst, get desperate if you have to, and lurch your own way. The web, with all of its twists and turns, has very few hard-and-fast rules. Don’t spend your time obeying the great wanderers; start to wander yourself. Light your way not by the light and posts of others; instead, forge your own path. Light your own way because your hunger and your thirst are much truer guides than any thought-leader could ever provide.
Why do I share these quotes with you today? First of all, to let you know that it’s okay to feel lost, to be lost, or even to actively work toward getting lost. Sometimes, lost is the best thing that you can be; it’s what allows you to find your way again. Second, I want your ideas, your inspirations, and your muses to add to my collection. What’s your favorite inspirational quote? What words do you turn to when you need an extra pick-me-up, a kick in the pants, or a moment of zen? I’d be more than grateful to get a peek inside your process, so don’t be shy. The comments area is yours. And the privilege is all mine. Go.