Off the map?

Are you out there?

How often have you heard the expression ‘it’s off the map’, or ‘I haven’t planned for this’, or ‘there is no routemap for what I am going through?’ The language of life often delineates where we go and what we are prepared to try. ‘That’s off limits’, or ‘don’t go there’ have far more impact and meaning than the words first suggest. We hear expressions like that virtually from the womb. In fact, it comes as a surprise that the first words we hear as infants aren’t ‘Welcome to the world, don’t walk on the grass!’ 

As children we will hear exhortations to ‘be careful’, to ‘watch where we’re going’ or ‘look out!’ – the culture of childhood is not to explore or to go to places that we are not supposed to. If anything, this culture of carefulness has become more pronounced in recent years. We sensibly, oh so sensibly channel our kids into the Scout or Guides and allow them to discover new things under very managed circumstances. Nothing wrong with that at all, but kids need to test themselves against bigger, stronger opposition than the local five badges on my sleeve brigade.

Most of us stay on the map for most of our lives. We explore the map, we go the very edge of the map in certain circumstances and occasionally we deliberately get ourselves lost, just to prove that we can survive in the wild. However, we are not in the wild, we are at the edge of a very civilised map. We clutch our compass and probably the phone number of our favoured local cab firm and we stride out with a slight sense of adventure.

When Christopher Columbus discovered America he did not set out with the objective of discovering a place called America. True, there was a sense of a brave new world existing out there somewhere, but not one that was already charted. A true explorer is not someone who re-discovers the known. To find yourself, you have to first lose your bearings.

In American law, discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party through the law of civil procedure can request documents and other evidence from other parties and can compel the production of evidence by using a subpoena or requests for production of documents and depositions. The important point here is that the lawyer does not know in advance what this request might turn up. If they did the request would be superfluous and the trial would probably not be necessary.

In the same way, if we know in advance what we are going to discover then actually we have already discovered it and the process of exploration is redundant. When people talk about career and planning their life, what they are attempting to do is read a map that they do not own yet. Let’s consider the word career for a second. A career cannot exist in advance. By definition, a career exists in retrospect. It is printed on a CV. It is difficult to plot or calculate in advance. However, careering about in your job or life in general may have the unexpected consequence of touching the edges of what is possible. You may discover areas of the future that you didn’t know existed.

Staying on the map means that you will not discover what lies off the map, the other side of the horizon, where the places are when you wander off the beaten track. Do you want to live on a beaten track? Do you want to live on the wall or off it?  

You don’t have to subscribe to the National Geographic in order to explore. You don’t need to buy a tent and canoe down the Amazon. You don’t need to be Bear Grylls or Ray Mears. It’s a state of mind not a state of nation.

The first step of discovery is understanding that the door in front of you is locked on the inside, not the outside and that you hold the key. Step through it and breathe in the air. It looks unfamiliar but the sun is shining. Beyond the map, there is another map, undrawn.

Congratulations, you have just become an explorer.

Selfless – a psychological tripwire by Roy Stannard

Introspection 2

Colm was a generous man. He had been brought up to believe that the more he gave, the more he would be rewarded later in life or in the life after. As a child he had shared his toys with his friends at school, unselfishly. He had lent his things to people he hardly knew and often they didn’t come back. He didn’t mind. It was good to be generous and he was always popular with the children around him who loved to come and play with his things.

When Colm had money given to him by his parents, he made a point of sharing it with his friends too. It seemed right to share his good fortune. The money wasn’t his, it had been given to him so he could help make the world a happier place. Soon the young boy was surrounded by fair weather friends who loved to be in his company for as long as he had wealth to share.

In fact, they became accustomed to going to Colm’s house where they shared his money, his games, his books and anything else they could lay their hands on.  He felt obliged to find new ways of supporting this generosity and went out to work early in the morning, every morning, delivering newspapers in order to continue to have the money that people loved to share.

His parents wondered about the number of friends their son had and worreid about the size of the presents he asked them for when his birthday arrived, and after that, Christmas. But they agreed to give him what he asked for because they wanted their son to be happy.

For a while he was happy. He was the centre of attention and always seemed to have lots of people around him telling him a wonderful person he was. His friends clapped him on the back and agreed that he was a good fellow whilst keeping one hand free to take the gifts that he insisted on pressing on them.

In his teenage years, Colm continued to fund friendship with generosity. He took up smoking in order to be able to share cigarettes. He took up drinking in order to be the first to the bar. He took up driving at seventeen in order to be able to give people lifts. He shared his first girlfriend with his best friend, whoever that was. At eighteen, he shared his identity so that his friends could buy alcohol at the local supermarket. At College he made his essay answers available for those in his group who had forgotten to meet deadlines. He lent all his money to people who were good at crying.

When Colm got his first job he quickly became the man people went to in order to get new supplies of stationery, to borrow a mug from, to sign in for if they were late back from lunch. He was the first person the Boss went to if he wanted someone to work late, to come in at weekends, to meet the impossible deadline. He had an inexhaustible supply of jokes and sent more office emails than any one else.

When Colm met his wife he promised her the biggest and best honeymoon and a couple of friends came along too. Later, when they had kids, he came home every evening from work with a present for them. Soon they expected this to happen and pursed their lips if he came home empty-handed.  His wife loved wearing his presents and loved finding catalogues to enable him to indulge his generosity still further. His parties were the talk of the town and people said that you could make a whole new circle of friends at each one. Colm sometimes wondered who these strangers were in his house, but they smiled at him and clapped him on the back, looking for all the world as if they loved him.

The newspapers covered his spectacular parties and the gossip columns buzzed with what happened amongst the people who attended. Strangely, Colm did not appear in the pictures and his name was rarely mentioned.  In the rare photograph that included him, he looked like a waiter, handing someone a drink, always smiling, never being smiled upon.

After paying for the graduation celebration, the wedding and the motor transportation of his children Colm was asked for a divorce by his wife. He agreed and there was a generous settlement.

Soon after, he suffered a serious heart attack and was taken to hospital. There was no-one to go with him. He was asked by the Doctor on duty who he was. He didn’t know how to answer this question because an identity in life is a contract between people with something to share. He had given himself away. Selflessly. To exist in other’s minds he had to first exist in his own.

Out there, there is someone who loves you unconditionally. Have you spent enough time together today?

Are you worth 10 out of 10? A free self development course by Roy Stannard


10/10 people. You know the types of people. Always confident, on top of things, with high self worth and amazingly popular. Wouldn’t it be nice to be one of those?

This course will take you to where you go – and then signpost where you could go next. It is intended as a first stage on a journey that will take you towards the Powerchange aim of providing you with a life that you are proud to own. Powerchange is a personal development organisation with a vast array of tools and resources, all designed to take you to where you want to be.

How do you know if you need this course?

We suspect that you will just know. But the following questions may give you an insight.

> Are you using your talents to their best advantage?

> Do you feel put upon – or put down – at work?

> Is work simply not working?

> Do you feel held back from becoming the successful person that you       
     know you are inside?

> Do you blame other people for your lack of success?

> Would you like to restore your confidence and sense of self-worth?

If the answers to the above are generally ‘yes’, then please continue. This could be a life-changing moment.

At each stage there will be a question to answer and some options. There are no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers, just honest ones. The answer you give will trigger a response from Powerchange – and this in turn will re-shape your thinking and take you on towards the next stage.

If at any stage you would like to talk to the course author Roy Stannard I can be emailed on

To join the Course please visit this link – it’s free!