Great journeys generally begin with maps. Maps provide a visual and clarifying representation of where you are, where you are going, and how you will get there.
Before the world was well charted, few people would dare to embark on long journeys. They feared being devoured by sea monsters or falling off the edge of the earth. Not knowing what lay beyond the horizon, they were generally unwilling to find out.
Early maps of the sea had serpents and dragons and so forth. They had all of the terrors and turbulence you might experience once you set sail. They represented a warning. But other maps spoke to the glories and treasures that awaited you. Maps were a call to adventure.
And then, in the 16th century, there was a renaissance in map making to coincide with an age of exploration. Consider the map produced by a German named Waldseemuller. His map was the first to actually use the word “America.” Unaware of the full accomplishments of Columbus when he created it in 1507, he mistakenly named the New World after another explorer, Amerigo Vespucci. The map brought a new perspective –- a new world view -– and inspired others to make their way to these newly discovered continents.
Of course, maps can also bring clarity. They help you orient your enterprise, plot a demanding course, and travel extraordinary distances. In fact, the constant refinement of maps would provide guidance and eventually enable the crew of Ferdinand Magellan to circumnavigate the globe in 1522.
Maps can even be a source of competitive advantage. They give you a view of the world that your rivals do not possess – at least for a time. In fact, Sir Francis Drake’s maps of North America were kept in secret for up for 10 years after his adventures because the Queen of England realized his discoveries offered insights best not shared with competing nations in Europe.
But let’s bring this back to you. Your map is a visual representation of the story you wish to tell. It starts with the present and moves to the future –- the contrast of what’s now and what’s next.
And, if your cartographic efforts are truly compelling, you will encourage others –- your potential customers, potential crew mates, and other stakeholders –- to share the adventure with you. Your map will incite and inspire.
Consider what a truly powerful map might mean for you and your organization. Your map can be a call to adventure, a source of clarity, and a source of competitive advantage. Just imagine where it might take you.