looking at a regional paper road map over coffee

Here's a funny thing about maps

Tom Street in the Sydney suburb of Ermington can be found on map 212 of the 2005 UBD Sydney Street Directory.

But you’ll have a problem trying to drive there; because it’s not actually there. A quick search of Google Maps satellite imaging confirms that it never was there.

It’s a fake street.

In this article:

Just one of the many fake streets, fake cemeteries, fake Scout Halls and a collection of other made-up Sydney landmarks that were deliberately printed in old paper street directories. (aagh those were the days.)

These are affectionately known as trap streets – streets that exist to trap map competitors from stealing the designs and selling them as their own. It’s not unusual as most map designers still use similar tricks to protect their work but with the online connected age upon us, it’s getting harder to keep secrets for longer.

How we map the world shapes our world

The people who make the maps we use often have a vested interest in how we see the world. They usually only want us to see their view of the future and they simply can’t (or won’t) see it any other way. Today so many opportunities surround us. The sad reality for many people is these opportunities remain invisible because they’re using another person’s map and direction for their own life.

The problem is twofold

You usually travel to a place that’s not marked on your map.

If it’s not on your map your expectation of ever being able to get there – dies. There’s nothing better than a road trip or adventure day with friends and family. You could well argue that adventure is in our blood. It’s part of our nature. The way we see the world around us, the way we map our business environment, our friends and even our relationships usually sets the expectation and direction for our life.

People don’t naturally stray far from their fixed view of the world they live in.

Considerable effort is required to change that.

Join a community of like-minded people

The only way to successfully explore a world that might not be seen on your personal map is through the support of a learning community. The single most telling predictor of your future success is the communities that you choose to belong to. Whether it’s simply opening your mind and leaving room for serendipity or whether it’s getting all Start Trek and boldly going where no one has gone before, your solution starts with others.

Because we understand the power of influence, most parents understand there are good and bad influences in the lives of their children. Most entrepreneurial businesses understand the work culture they build has often more impact than the technical expertise of their staff.

Today’s most influential learning communities become high-production environments through sharing ideas, projects and goals. They also help filter out much of the excessive information overload that can overwhelm today’s busy professional.

Two tips for the new explorer

Stepping out into a world that's bigger than our experience to date, requires two important skills.

  • Be true – All behaviours are guided by values. In today’s connected world, all behaviours are open to public inspection and comment.
  • Be consistent – Today there is no work-life balance; there is only life. The rules of good governance and good behaviours are the same. Don’t bend your morals into a pretzel in an attempt to do the doublethink of Orwell’s 1984. Business and life are not separate with separate rules and behaviours.
You can’t tell me greed is good in business but not when teaching your grandchildren. There is only life – be consistent.

Return to the wonder of discovery.

Our biggest discoveries are never in our comfort zone.

The best innovations usually come from those outside our expert spaces – removed from the professional blindness where we all tend to miss what we’re not expecting to see. We need to return to the wonder of adventure and the propelling power of discovering new places that we thought never existed.

The last word

It creates hope for a better world – and hope compels us to get up and go exploring where no one has gone before and where old maps won’t show new ways.

Drew Browne Modern Small Business thought-provocateur
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