Losing The Big Picture With GPS

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by Steve Holt on September 13, 2011

The last couple of trips that I have taken have provided me an unsettling experience. I am a technology guy so I embrace it wholeheartedly, and promote the use of technology to others in my consulting and speaking. But I do recognize that sometimes technology causes more problems than it solves. One such problem, I think, is GPS.

Don’t get me wrong, I love GPS. I love not having to worry about keeping one of those fold-up maps with me. You know, those maps that never fold back the way you got it? Plus, those maps are always out of date and don’t include all the latest roads, right? I love being able to just tell my GPS where I want to go and following the soothing voice to my destination without any fear that I won’t get there.

But I have discovered that with GPS you never ‘get your bearings’. You know what I mean? Having a sense of where things are, which direction you are facing, which way this is or that is? I recently traveled to some cities where I still don’t know which way was what. I was ‘turned around’ and would have been totally lost without my GPS. I couldn’t tell you if where I stayed was in the north, south, east, or west part of the city, and that little screen on my GPS wasn’t the whole picture of where I was… it was a tiny slice of the big picture. If my GPS had suddenly quit working, I literally wouldn’t have known which direction to start driving to get anywhere that I needed to go. It was quite a helpless feeling not having any idea of ‘my bearings’.

In the same way, people can get lost in the technology and lose their bearings. I honestly think that some folks have that physical feeling of being lost and not knowing which direction to go when it comes to using all types of technology in their business. That feeling of helplessness can be crippling, and some folks simply shut down and end up doing nothing. And that is why I get so much satisfaction in my consulting and speaking work because I get to help people find the direction they need to go and showing them how to get there. Getting that sense of ‘your bearings’ is critical and extremely valuable. I guess in a sense it is understanding the big picture.

So I think that next time I travel I will get one of those old-school fold-up maps at the gas station and see what happens. Maybe I’ll have a better idea of where I am and where I am going. Or maybe I’ll get so frustrated trying to fold the darn thing back up that I’ll just go back to the soothing voice and relax. Or maybe I’ll do both. One thing is for sure, I don’t ever want to lose my bearings again.

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