Geographically, there exists the True North and the Magnetic North.
True North is the direction along the Earth’s surface towards the geographic North Pole. However, we also have the Magnetic North which is determined by the earth’s magnetic fields when using a Campus. The Magnetic North is always moving while the True North remains constant.
From a people perspective, True North is best described by Bill George in his book True North, where he defines it as; “the internal compass that guides you successfully through life. It represents who you are as a human being at your deepest level. It is your orienting point, your fixed point in a spinning world that helps you stay on track …”
I will define Magnetic North as; “the external campus that attempts to shape and guide your life. It’s usually determined by the environment, of which society is key i.e. family, friends, profession, nation, race among others.”
A long time friend of mine had a seemingly successful IT career which saw him rise through the Government ranks from an IT Officer to a section head. He took on numerous duties as a result and had the ‘power’ and ‘influence’ in his Government Department. A scholarship opportunity arose for him to study a PHD in the IT field in Norway and he jumped for it. However, a year into his Doctorate studies, I met him on the city streets and asked him what he was doing there instead of studying. An hour and a cup of tea later, he had shared with me his frustrations of trying to pursue studies in a field he no longer had much interest in. His desire had changed from IT to the Property dealing business. As a result, he quit his Doctorate studies and has been running a Property Business for over 12 years now. Judging by how settled and comfortable he is today, it is evident that he found his True North.
Someone once said, Direction is so much more important than speed. Many are going no where fast.
It’s one thing to tick off deliverables based on environmental expectations (like car, marriage, house, business, club membership etc) and another to pursue your purpose.
You’re following the Magnetic North track if you dwell more on fulfilling environmental expectations.
It’s also however possible that during your quiet moments of self reflection, you realise that your life is taking on a form that you don’t approve of in your spirit; You feel trapped into what you’re doing and can’t turn around; You acknowledge being a prisoner to your peers and thus fear to lose them; You realise the struggle you go through to sustain your lifestyle and have no idea how to maintain it if you lost that job.
However, as an individual, you need direction and that is where the analogy of the True North comes in. Most times we move with the flow and simply savour the benefits of the moment. It often takes times of crisis like the Covid-19 saga we are faced with for us to reflect on our achievements, decisions and direction taken. That is when we tend to sober up and sift through our decisions, and evaluate their impact on our present and future selves. This process helps us assess our True North and Magnetic North.
If you are planning to curve out a future for yourself outside the comfort zone of a salaried job, you will have to find out your True North.