You Are the Guide


Path maker, there is no path.
You make the path by walking.
By walking, you make the path.

{Antonio Machado}

It’s quite a moment when you realize that it’s up to you.

It’s a liberating, frightening moment of recognition that the only way to create your work, your leadership, your life, is by taking the steps that you alone can take.

No matter how many loyal friends, family and colleagues you have supporting you, none of them can take the steps for you. None can provide a trail map for the path you alone must create. They can only cheer you on, provide respite when needed and encourage you to keep walking.

You must take the steps.

The box of maps is empty because we are always trying to substitute someone else’s version of a path for our own. We keep grasping at other people’s experiences as if we can borrow them, an ill-fitting pair of shoes never intended for our feet.

The box of maps will always be empty. Once we understand that, we can get busy walking.


Take the path of vulnerability

I hand out an assignment to my class. There are a list of options from which to choose, one of which is “Emotional Intelligence.” Perusing the list a student raises his hand and asks, “Will you please tell me what ‘Emotional Intelligence” is?

An act of vulnerability in service of learning.

A friend says to me, “I would like to get to know you better.”

An act of vulnerability in service of relationship.

A leader asks his team, “How can I be better for you?”

An act of vulnerability in service of…service.

Small acts that point to an essential truth: there is nothing we care about that won’t require us to make ourselves vulnerable. If we don’t care, we don’t bother.

The link below will take you to a 12 minute clip (which inspired this post) of one of my favorite teachers, David Whyte, speaking to the truth of vulnerability as the access point to real conversation.

David Whyte — Poetry from the On Being Gathering (Closing Words)

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.