Unmarked detours, getting lost, and where we can go from here

The best thing about summer is, for me, the amount of it I get to spend out on the road. I LOVE to travel, to scope out new sights, to visit family I haven’t seen in forever. Last week we took a road trip to see my parents out in Connecticut (and pick up a very excellent tan) and I was sharply reminded of the one part of road trips I don’t like.
Getting lost.

What ho, you say? If I could follow directions I wouldn’t lose hours driving around in the middle of nowhere looking for my turn? If I got a GPS, I wouldn’t be stuck sitting there staring at a tiny atlas with poorly marked roads? You’re probably right. But where’s the fun in that???
On this last roadtrip, I saw something I’d never seen before. The Interstate bridge was closed to traffic while they did roadwork. (You know the one about the three seasons in the Northeast, right? Snow, Snow and Road Work? Oh, so true…) Now, usually this would mean there was a well-marked detour that would eventually get you where you wanted to go, even if it took a few extra minutes along the way.
There were a few extra minutes involved, all right. Let me tell you what there wasn’t. A well-marked start of this detour. As a matter of fact, there wasn’t a well-marked anything anywhere on this detour. After about fifteen minutes of driving, followed by another fifteen minutes of staring aimlessly at the atlas trying to figure out how I was going to get across the Hudson River without having to swim, I had to use my phone-a-friend option to grovel someone into opening up Google Maps and figuring out how to get us out of there!
It’s funny how many similarities I could draw to business out of this. Because it’s easy to get lost along the way when you’re building a company, or planning a marketing campaign, or plotting out a new product launch. And sometimes, the tools we have to determine whether our next plan is going to pass or fail just plain aren’t up to the job. So we have to phone a friend, one that’s either already traveled that route or who has newer tools and technology that can help us find our way.

But what do you do when you’re at that unmarked detour and you can’t quite work up any genuine desire to admit to your friend that you can’t do it? That you need help? This is what gums up the works for many businesses, who wouldn’t’ find themselves in the predicaments they find themselves in if they’d look around and think, this is how they did it. Maybe they can help me do it better. Instead of, “I’m goin to close my eyes and guess, then see what happens next.”

Pick up a phone. Phone a friend. And leave that pride behind.