Throw Away the Maps

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People judge us by the path they’ve seen us walk before. They can’t anticipate our future steps. We, ourselves, look to how things have been, what seems to be the lay of the land, without realizing that the maps are not the territory.

Want to succeed at work? Then don’t try to do your job. Instead, work towards something larger, more meaningful, and something that blends your convictions internally with your best ability to help others externally.

Want to create something new? Then throw away the old, or maybe join two disparate old things together into something new. The newest creations often come from two old maps stuck together.

Want to feel confident? Then forgive yourself every footstep you’ve ever taken until the one still attached to the bottom of your foot and start now. Today. Day one. Focus on your next steps, not the ones you missed.

Bravery and courage don’t come from following some guide. Be where you are, truly where you are at this moment, and see the real territory around you and take stock. And with that reality, even if it’s a painful one, throw away your maps and walk your own path. runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Anonymous

    Love this post, Chris. 

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    This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last week

  • Kevin Gainey

    For whatever reason, this was something I needed to hear this morning. Funny how that works. 

    • Michael

       Kevin – As they say (and as I whole-heartedly agree) EVERYTHING happens for a reason.  ; – )

  • Gildo Bittencourt

    Está é a verdade absoluta que muitas pessoas não conhece,obrigado pelo
    maravilhoso trabalho humano,o meu sonho é um dia conhecer pessoalmente
    este grande homem,Chris Bragan

  • Eric Buckley

    Brilliant! This is one of your shorter posts … but thus far, one that had had one of the highest impacts.

    • Chris Brogan

      Then make it work for you, Eric. : ) 

  • Melissa

    This comes at a particularly pertinent time for me.  Thank you.  :)  

  • Saipreet

    Yes Chris. We need to Throw away the map & Discover a NEW route. And Be our own Columbus.

  • Hattie Horn

    Great post! This week I will walk my talk.

  • Kleber Oliveira

    Simple steps. The hardest ones and the best we can take. It takes time but time brings “overnight success”. Keep up with our goals is the most straight forward thing to do. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Danezeller

    Successful businesses in traditional industries do this when they throw out the old maps. Southwest Airlines instructions to its employees to do things “better, faster and cheaper,” gives map-making power to those on the ground.

  • Kneale Mann

    Great post and great reminders, Chris. We often fall into our own judgement of our past steps. The future will never arrive and the past is passed. It’s what we do right now that counts. This reminds of me of the Ian Percy quote; “We judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intentions”. 

  • Mary Ulrich

    Wise words Chris. If only it was easier to forget our past journeys into FailureWorld. I know, I know…our failures taught us. But, it takes courage to risk launching our spacecraft into uncharted worlds and making friends with the aliens. Bon Voyage to all.

  • Mimi Meredith

    Nice. Especially the forgiveness part. Guilt can motivate us to take care of things we know we should, but when it’s guilt for guilt’s sake, it is a useless burden to carry along on the journey.

    It’s been awesome to watch your journey unfold, Chris. Here’s to your next step!

  • Mila Araujo

    There are *very* few posts I look forward to reading every week. Yours is one of them.  Thank you for delivering the value consistently and always taking the time to share something inspiring.

    Throw away the maps…this is probably the best piece of advice anyone could ever give. Maps are a great way to walk the path that has been walked before – as you suggest. In HR, when you take a traditional approach to reviewing a resume, its exactly what you do,, look at someones path and compare it to what *you* think looks stable, looks to be the norm. When I look at a cv, I try and look at the path the person took and understand the motivations behind the actions and what transpired as a result. Often the people who just followed a path may not necessarily be the most innovative or risk taking people – so to take your suggestion into the workplace from a hiring standpoint, I think you are right on. To move forward you have to be different, you have to be willing to take risks and go places that others may not have, thats how you are different- paths that a lot of people are uncomfortable with, can be the greatest paths to success – someone has to be the explorer. Someone has to make the map.

    In life, it is always easier to make your map, try and follow your plan. The reality is that life doesn’t work that way – there will always be roadblocks…. In Quebec, there will always be roads under construction ;)  You need to be at ease with looking whats ahead of you and knowing, its okay, you’ll find the way around and make it through. Adaptability and willing to embark on an adventure are the only ways to make it through. The easier you can do this without loosing a step, the more likely you will be to succeed where others wont. Eventually you will master traveling without a map – if you can do this, then the world is open to you. Bring your toolbox of knowledge of how to adapt, how to move forward, how to stay “encouraged” instead of discouraged – this is what great successes, experiences and leaders are made of.

    You shared a great post here today, thank you.

  • Michele Price

    People want maps because they think it will make it easier.
    People want maps because they do not trust their own instinct.
    People want maps because they are brainwashed by repetition to think they will not succeed without them.

    What I know is there is a difference between easy and simple.
    What I know is it takes consistent work to build your instinct to perform well.
    What I know is we control what we “believe” and questioning everything with a mind’s eye to how it fits and plays out in the everyday world is imperative.

    Instead of looking for “what to think”, look for models to learn from “how they think” , where it has gotten them.   Then put those principles into action with your own mind-power and creativity is the best map you can have in live or business.

  • Kathy

    Thanks for the inspiration, Chris! 
    I really needed it this morning! :D


  • Owen Marcus

    Excellent post.

    “Be where you are, truly where you are at this moment, and see the real territory around you and take stock.” – Chris you’re starting to sound like Buddha.

    I like to think I break rules and am willing to step outside the box, but daily I’m reminded how I still hold back. So, I take one step in that new direction.

  • Martin Pigg

    This is EXACTLY the way we should approach life! Thanks so much for a shot of inspiration this morning. 

  • Epobrien

    I enjoyed your piece today Chris – very reflective. 

    I think it was Anne Frank who coined the phrase, ‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world’. 

    If you have a burning desire to try something new, go for it – don’t let opportunities pass you by…life is too short for regret or doing stuff you don’t enjoy.

    Here’s the thing – if you take a chance and you’re right, happy days. And if things don’t go so well and you have to change direction later – you’ll still likely feel more fulfilled having tried and failed than to have never tried at all.

  • Sarah Kolb

    I’ve been reading a lot about self-forgiveness with respect to taking positive steps in the future, and this fits right into that idea. It’s impossible to move forward in any positive direction if you’re busy flagellating yourself for the past — time to move on and move up!

  • Wayne Lamarre

    The themes in your posts of leaving the past behind, taking stock of what you have to contribute, and  bravely moving forward has been poignant  for me personally. 

    Thanks Chris

  • Lei-Lani

    This post is so uplifting after reading it I could not sleep and this morning I am still thinking about it.
    Thank you

  • Morooka

    Always loved the “RIGHT NOW” mentality. The past you can learn from but the future is what you make it. Not a path or a plan, whatever and where ever you take yourself is where you will end up. Its scary at times, but when you feel like you are going the wrong way. Make a turn for the better. Simply said but absolutely true.

  • Elizabeth H. Cottrell

    I love the new you, Chris. This gave me an “I can do this” boost all day today. Thanks.

  • Molly Gordon

    I’ve been thinking about throwing away the maps a lot lately as I work on a massive revision of my biz web site. I’m hungry for freshness from and for myself, my clients, my readers. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars and many years learning marketing and sales so I could train others. It’s good stuff, and it has helped my business and my clients’ businesses. But there’s a limit to how far you can go within the defined territory. If you are your biz and your biz is you, you need to be ready to leave the road.

  • Rick Clark

    I’ve never owned a map. I pointed myself towards the horizon over 40 years ago and never looked back. The light on the horizon is as bright today as it was in the ’70′s. But everything around me has changed. Everything looks so different now.

    Seems like only yesterday I was excited to get this thing called a pager and the fax machine made business communications as quick and easy as it ever would be. Then this Mac showed up on my desk and let me toss my IBM Selectric into the dumpster forever.

    Today it’s iThis and iThat and iWonder what’s next. Glad I never owned a map.

  • Mike McCready

    I love this post! I remember hearing Thomas Frey speak about systems and how the inhibit a culture or organization’s ability to progress.  He referenced how the Romans could never excel at mathematics because of their system of roman numerals. 

    The same is true today. What systems or maps are you using because “you’ve always done it that way?” Maybe it’s time to rethink them. 

    Love it Chris. Another great post. 

  • DG

    Nice post. This would probably work for an individual however it would be tricky if each one of us charted on our own without the map and start bumping into each other :)

  • Roxana Stefana

    You are so right!!! These kind of articles from people like  you are so motivational!!

  • mckra1g

    Amen. Thanks Chris. Your timing is impeccable. 

  • Anonymous

    Particularly apt when starting up a new business and everyone around you is trying to pull you in a zillion different directions. Keep focused and follow your heart. That’s where my map is.

  • Ashley

    Love this! There’s blueprint telling us exactly what we should do. Agency is a beautiful thing!

    • Ashley

      no blueprint*

  • John Curran

    Hi Chris,

    Your post if full of inspirational wisdom to help move us outside our comfort zones into a new world of possibilities.  Nicely done!

    Coach John

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  • Jane Boyd

    Everything about this works. Wow.  Speechless.

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  • John Haydon

    @chrisbrogan:disqus - I’ve been thinking about the term “best practices” lately, and how they should called “decent practices that worked ok yesterday”. The implementation of “best practices” ironically lead to average. 

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    Very nice!

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    Bravery and courage don’t come from following some guide.

  • Crystal Bingham

    This is a great post!

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  • Ann Reynolds

    I can’t think of anything I’ve read recently that has impressed me more. Thank you :-)

  • Stephen Melancon

    Thank you for this one Chris! 

    “Walk your own path” a great mantra for everyone.

  • Newmoongirls

    Chris, what a beautiful post. We should be who we are, where we are. Trying to be someone else doesn’t work. Sometimes, we do need to merge two maps together or just start over with a new one and that is okay too. We need to remind young adults of this as they grow up because their identity is so important to them that they try to be someone they are not. 

  • Danny Brown

    Nicely put, Chris.

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  • kapsh

    nicely said mate

  • Judy Kane

    I normally don’t comment, but this moved me, to say the least.  You touched a nerve, and I’m sure it wasn’t just mine.  Thank you.