Are you more of a map or ladder person?
What does that even mean, Ashley?
It’s a thing I discovered recently that just CLICKS.
In your life / career, do you imagine yourself climbing a ladder?
Next salary increase
Or do you picture yourself exploring different locations on a map?
Experience in exotic location
(Mountain top, ocean floor, city, country, etc.)
The ladder has merit.
But it can feel very prescribed, right?
And if you’ve trained your brain to think of the ladder as safe, switching to a map mindset is daunting.
It can be especially difficult for someone who knows nothing but ladders to engage with a maps person.
They want very badly to see your story as linear.
To make connections that make sense.
To find clear endpoints.
And a specific goal.
But what if the goal is to experience different things?
To be unapologetically multi-passionate?
Confession: it is with absolute delight that, whenever I encounter someone trying to understand what my very mappy life is and has been, I introduce additional destinations (places I’ve not only been, but still currently reside). Because, y’all, you can be many things at once.
It’s kind of like when you study physical dimensions and challenge yourself to imagine the 5th and 6th dimensions (Superstring Theory). You either like the fuzzy concept of additional planes of existence, or they disturb you.
As my dad—and Allan Watts—would say, “Are you prickly or gooey?”
Structure versus… blobs?
Reality is we’re all a little both / and.
But I’m going to raise my gooey flag a little higher this issue and remind you that having a maps mindset is freeing.
Especially for those of us who are storytellers.
There’s always an unexpected turn we can deliver.
A plot twist.
A way of taking the story where the audience didn’t expect it to go.
Let’s embrace the idea of being enigmatic.
Of not fitting into the narrative others want to wedge us into.
As creators, it makes for a much richer story to NOT tell people what they expect to hear.
As content marketers, it helps us build brand stories that stand out.
As life livers, it frees us from the confines of looking to the next rung on a ladder and allows us to think, “I wonder what adventure I’d like to take next?”
Go ahead, confuse people a little.
It’s more fun.
And it keeps them coming back (see You Gonna Finish That? below).