How to Help Someone Who is Lost


How to Help Someone Who is Lost

Yesterday, we headed off on a family skiing vacation at Mont Tremblant, 130 kilometres north of Montreal.

The drive went well, especially using GPS. Other than a few twists and turns through Montreal, travel was smooth and on time.

We eagerly watched satellite navigator click down the kilometres to our checkered flag destination marker. “You have arrived at your destination, the route guidance is now finished,” it confidently exclaimed. The problem was that we were still on an unlit, two lane highway with only trees on both sides to welcome us.

We kept driving until we reached the Mont Tremblant Village. There were no passersby to ask at 11:00 pm in -25 degrees Celsius weather so we kept going.

After confirming we were lost by driving in all directions, we headed to the only resort we could see. We asked the the person at the front desk if this was where we check in to the place we were staying, he said, “no.” We then asked how we could get to where we were going. He gave us a map of the area, drew a line to our destination and then pointed out our mistake, which sounded like the old Bugs Bunny line, “You should have taken a left at Albuquerque.” 

We headed off again but realized that where we were to check-in was not where we were staying. We called the registration office and the woman said that our mistake was using GPS: “You shouldn’t have used GPS. It doesn’t work here.” When we mentioned a restaurant that was in sight, she confirmed we were lost. “No, that’s not where you should be.” 

Our guide directed us to go past the golf course heading toward to mountain. Since it was completely dark and being our first visit to the area, we didn’t know where either of them were. It now seems amusing exchanging comments in the care like, “Do you see the mountain…I don’t see the mountain…could it be over there…is that a golf course under the snow?” 

The good news is that we were only a minute away. The bad news is that we continued driving in the wrong directions for ten. The only remaining option was to backtrack the way we originally came past the invisible GPS checkered flag point. In minutes, we arrived at our destination an hour after estimated arrival time.

Travel stories are excellent metaphors for working through change. There are clear start and end points, landmarks define the path and usually there are people available to help them to get to where they are going.

Here are some tips to help travelers of any kind:

  • Be clear on where people need to go, including landmarks they will see along the way
  • Tell people multiple times where they are going―repetition and accuracy are connected
  • Check in with people to make sure they are on track
  • Put yourself in their shoes―no one tries to get lost and they can’t always see the mountain to show them where they are
  • Inform people that they are not the first to get lost―confidence and success are connected
  • Assure people they will get to where they are going
  • Confirm that people get back on track when they are lost
These may seem like simple tips, but many change initiatives focus on the destination without checking in to make sure people are progressing toward it. The destination becomes the focus over how people are getting there. 
 
Mont Tremblant is beautiful, especially when you can see it. We have reached the checkered flag and it feels good.
 
Phil
 
 

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