“You Are Here”

by Haider on December 9, 2008 · 10 comments

in Personal Growth

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Theodore Roosevelt

If you had a map of the place you are in, the first thing you should look for on the map is the spot you are on (in malls, theme parks, etc. this spot is marked by a “You Are Here” sign).

If you don’t know where you are on the map then the map is of little use to you. You can’t get to your destination, even if you know where that is on the map!

That’s because for you to move towards your destination, you need to know which direction to go in from where you are. Getting to your destination depends entirely on that. You would have to go left if your destination is to your left, and go right if it’s to your right.

There is no universal direction you have to go in to get to your destination.

The next step you have to take, and the direction you have to take it in depends on where you are. Not where other people are. Not where you were. Not from where you want to be. But from where you are right now.

One of the main reasons why we feel lost with personal growth is that we compare ourselves to others. On a map, that’s like finding out where someone else is on the map, and trying to make your way to your destination from where they are!

That can get pretty confusing. The map wouldn’t reflect the reality that you’re living in, and you might come across dead ends that don’t appear on the map, simply because you’re looking at the wrong part of the map.

If you want to make progress in personal growth you have to determine where YOU are, what weaknesses you have, what strengths you have, what you need to learn, what habits you need to develop (or unlearn) in order to achieve the goals you want.

And you certainly cannot expect to take the tenth step before the first. This may seem like an odd comment to make when considering the analogy of a map, but this is a very common practice when it comes to personal growth. People assume they have reached a point that they haven’t yet reached, and begin planning their next step from there, when there is a gap between where they are and where think they are.

For them to make progress, they need to be clear on where they are, so that they don’t skip any steps that they need to take.

Where are YOU on your personal growth map, and what do YOU need to do to get to your destination?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Asmahan December 14, 2008 at 8:33 pm

I find this very interesting and useful! Thank you :)

2 Haider December 14, 2008 at 11:16 pm

Dear Asmahan,

Thanks for passing by and sharing your thoughts :)

I hope you’ll get to benefit from many more articles to come ;)

3 Malcolm June 2, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Nice analogy. Acknowledgement of the present state is a common necessary first step in many teachings, including spiritual ones and the 12 step program. Well put.

Malcolm’s last blog post..Child Abuse

4 Haider June 3, 2009 at 7:57 am

It seems very commonsensical, but it’s surprising how we can easily overlook the importance of acknowledging the reality in which we exist.

I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the 12-step program, though :P

5 Malcolm June 3, 2009 at 9:44 pm


All I really am of the 12-step program is ignorant. I don’t know much about it except it has 12 steps and the first one is “know that you have a problem”.

The neat/strange thing is that (like you said) often things that are very logical and very repeated are dismissed. Some of the most overused quotes are the very ones we should be heeding… prime examples being R. Frost’s “Two roads diverged….” and even moreso Gandhi’s “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The latter is actually usually misquoted, with the first two words left off. This alteration changes it from a statement of truth to an instruction. In the original form, it can also suggest that the clauses may be reversed in causality: whatever you are must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Anyway, both of these quotes are used almost obnoxiously, yet rarely heeded. Their abundance is probably why – everybody feels like they must already have gained their little nugget of wisdom from the quote so they dismiss it.

Malcolm’s last blog post..Packaging Deposit – because bottles and cans aren’t enough

6 Haider June 6, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Very true.

You touched on one of the most critical problems in personal growth: not knowing how to use the information we receive.

Some quotes are intended for inspiration whereas others are intended to act as guiding principles in our lives (helping us make better choices). Gandhi’s saying is a guiding principle, yet it’s taken as an inspirational quote.

So, instead of saying: “How can I be a the change I wish to see in the world?” people think: “Wow! That’s a nice saying! How nice! Very inspiring! Wow! Cool!” and forget about it as soon as the shot of positive thoughts fades away.

7 Malcolm June 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm

You got it!

Have you done any posting on the use and misuse of quotes? There are such a large number around – it seems a shame that we don’t really know how to use them.

What sort of ways can we classify quotes? I personally kindof like pithy ones – little witty sayings that reveal bits of truth but aren’t really anything to live by.

For example, “The only difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to be credible.” – Mark Twain

Malcolm’s last blog post..Packaging Deposit – because bottles and cans aren’t enough

8 Haider June 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Malcolm, I’m afraid I haven’t written anything on using quotes (or using information, in general), but this is something I will definitely address as part of my campaign against useless personal growth advice.

Some witty sayings are simply used for relaxation and not as any meaningful revelation of sacred truth. Mark Twain is hilarious. So is Winston Churchill! :D

For me, I would classify these quotes under “Recreational” because they’re intended for fun.

9 Malcolm June 23, 2009 at 4:43 am

My favorite quote of all time from Churchill is the following dialogue:

Lady Nancy Astor: Winston, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.
Churchill: Nancy, if I were your husband, I’d drink it.


10 Haider June 24, 2009 at 2:26 pm

That could very well be my favorite Churchill quote as well. Lady Nancy was just asking for it! :P

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