True North

I love maps and I’m fascinated by Global Positioning Systems (GPS). It’s amazing to me that a tiny electronic device can pinpoint my exact location anywhere I am and guide me to my destination. When traveling in an unknown city, I often have both a map and a GPS in my lap, trying to find my way.

Maps differ from a GPS in that they offer possibilities, while a GPS, if programmed correctly, will lead you where you want to go and let you know when you’ve gone astray, loudly! “As soon as possible, make a u-turn and go….”. Over and over…ack! Turn that thing off!

I like the possibilities of maps, but when I have a destination and a deadline, a GPS is better. It takes me where I want to go without deviation.

Then there is the compass. Compasses point the way, but there are variations, because of the magnetic pull of the earth. If I want to find true north, a magnetic compass will not help. True north is different from magnetic north. Magnetic north varies from place to place because of local magnetic anomalies. To find true north from a magnetic compass I need to know the local magnetic variation. A good map will have magnetic deviations marked. Magnetic north differs from true north because of magnetic declination, a measure of the angle between true north and magnetic north. True north is a geographical direction, represented on maps by longitudinal lines. Each line of longitude begins and ends at the Earth’s polar and represents north and south travel. Finding your way north by following longitudinal lines may be tricky; you may encounter impassable terrain or other obstacles. A magnetic compass will lead to your destination, but you may wander and zigzag.

The simple way to find true north is to use a GPS, which tells you where you are. Be selecting true north on your GPS and entering your destination, the GPS will show you how to get there.

True North has become a metaphor for life. Everyone has a True North; it is something within that calls us. How we find it depends on our choices. Sometimes the choice is made because we hear the call clearly. Some people know from a very young age what is calling them and they don’t let anything stop them from heeding the call. Some people may know but they become deterred or distracted. And some people don’t hear or don’t trust themselves.
True North doesn’t pull you toward it or tell you how to get there. It does, however, point you in the direction, when you look and listen.

There is a True North for your life. It is uniquely you. No one else has the same True North. It is an internal compass that will guide you through life successfully, if you will consult it. Your True North is you at your deepest level – your passions, your values and what motivates you. It represents what gives you satisfaction. True North is your point of orientation and leads you forward.

Finding your True North is both easy and difficult. Easy, because all you have to do is pay attention and listen. Difficult because you have to listen and make the commitment. Most of us don’t want to take the time or make the commitment. We often don’t trust ourselves. We’re so busy following the compass, we zigzag when the quickest way might have been to go straight. How do you know what your True North is? It’s so simple we often ignore it. There is an inner knowing, a “gut feeling”. Is there something you love to do, just for the sheer joy of doing it? That’s your True North. Pay attention to how you feel and you’ll learn what your True North is – you’ll learn what satisfies you, what makes you happy.
If you’ll take the time to consult your internal compass, you’ll always be led in the right direction. Finding your True North is applicable to every area in your life: you’ll find true joy in your work, your play, your relationships. You’ll know who you are at a very deep level and that knowledge will guide you in every thing you do.

And when you are seduced and get off track ( and you will!) your internal compass will let you know. You’ll have an internal knowing, that “gut feeling”, that something is wrong and you need to make corrections.

What makes your heart sing? What, when you’re doing it, gives you such pleasure that time flies? Think about that.


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