Asking for Directions

We’ve all been there. It’s midnight. The little ones are asleep. The streets are dark and empty, and nothing looks familiar.

I especially remember that very experience—it was Christmas time—when my children were young and I was driving my family from Dallas, Texas to my parents’ new home in Roswell, Georgia—a place I had never been.

We were exhausted and we were lost.

I discovered a phone booth—now we all know how old I really am—called my folks and found them both at home.

My father asked, “Where are you?”

I answered, “I have no idea, Dad. I don’t recognize anything.  All I can see is Exit 213 and a sign that says Glendale Road.”

“I know where you are. Stay put—I’ll be there in 20 minutes and you can follow me home.” So many emotions start swimming inside me when I write those words. Not only because I miss my father so much, but also because there’s such a peace and re-assurance that comes when we realize that someone cares and knows where we are.

We all get lost—in our lives and in our business. We get confused. We become disoriented. Mostly frustrated and disgusted with ourselves for getting lost in the first place. Every single day, I am invited to listen to another team member—often an NMD—berate herself for not being where she thinks she should be by now.

What in the world has happened? With so much enthusiasm and passion, we set out down a road to a place we’ve never been. Sometimes, however, everything gets dark. Nothing looks familiar.

Even though the destination is clear to us, there will be times on our journey that we may need to ask for directions.

This, I am happy to say, is normal. I can’t remember how many times I have felt that my business was going nowhere. Stuck in the same place on the side of the road for months at a time, without a clue about what to do or which way to go.

Those are difficult seasons for all of us. But, they are necessary seasons, designed to teach us humility and then, to prepare us to help those who will someday come to us for wisdom and direction.

What do we do when we get lost like this? We do what I did that night on the side of the road. We make the call. We make a connection with the person we believe cares about us and truly understands our dilemma. We can ask for directions.

A complete list of people I have called over the years is too long to mention. Obviously, Jackie and Curt—hundreds of times. And, Sally, being somewhat of a sidekick to me in both life and the business, has unloaded some amazing pearls of wisdom over the years.

Elton Dubose, Kerry Daigle, Ron Watkins, Bobby Padgett, Karen Jones, Sharron Rankin, Randy Mathews and Michael Hecht are some who come to mind when I need clarity and encouragement. And, I have found a handful of friends on my own team—leaders with whom I feel safe and open—I can approach and seek their direction in my own struggle to be consistent and focused.

So, we make the call. When asking for directions, we must be honest and open. No fluff. No hype. No muddling through. Letting the number speak for themselves. Like my dad cut to the chase when I called from the side of the road. “Where are you?”

And, with that exhortation, let me close with five great questions I heard NMD Jill Sell teach a group of us this past weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. She was her usual brilliant and passionate self, and the questions she put to us are just what we need to get out of the dark, off the side of the road and on our way to our desired destination.

Question 1: Where am I?

Question 2: What is my next step?

Question 3: What are the benefits in getting there?

Question 4: What is a reasonable time to get there?

Question 5: What steps and plan of action do I take to get there?

These five questions deserve a full hour or more of coaching and guidance from an experienced, season leader. We can make that call. We can take the plunge, get humble, honest, and vulnerable before that person we trust and respect. Then, with their help, we can ask and answer these questions, develop a plan of action and get back on the road to our destination.

Make the call.