Three Ways to Map Your Future

Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet. – Victor Hugo

A story is told of an old map on display in the British Museum in London. It’s an old mariner’s chart, drawn in 1525, outlining the North American coastline and adjacent waters. The cartographer made some intriguing notations on areas of the map that represented regions not yet explored.

He wrote: “Here be giants,” “Here be fiery scorpions,” and “Here be dragons.” Eventually, the map came into the possession of Sir John Franklin, a British explorer in the early 1800’s. Scratching out the fearful inscriptions, he wrote these words across the map; “Here be God.”

Your rise as a leader is marked by a future you choose for yourself. Although it’s not a guarantee, you can take great strides to attaining it through big dreams, hard work, and a willingness to pay the price to achieve it. From the old mariner’s chart come three leadership lessons for your consideration as you map your future as a leader.

A future with a clean slate.

Regardless of how others may have labeled you in the past your future is yours to write. Have you made mistakes in the past? Have you been unfairly criticized? Have others tried to marginalize you or overlooked your potential? Well, let me encourage you to know that who you are today and where you are headed as a leader is not decided by what others think or believe but in the way you now choose to behave. It’s decided by the truth you choose to believe and accept about who you are now. Ignore the labels and refuse to be defined by your past. You have a clean slate with which to work. Now is your time to chart a new course.

A future with fresh thinking.

By embracing your future and working with a clean slate you can now go to work with fresh thinking that can propel you to a new level. Are you comfortable enough in your own skin to be made uncomfortable with new ideas? When you map your future you must do so with new and improved ways of thinking. Throw off the shackles of old thinking and stale ways of doing things. It won’t happen by chance. Moving forward with new disciplines will require an open mind and right attitudes. Fresh thinking deserves a chance but it will only work when you cross out the old inscriptions of the past and chart a new future.

A future with unlimited potential.

Mapping out your future has little to do with past labels. It has everything to do with what you believe about yourself, how you choose to act upon that belief, and what actions you are willing to take to go there. In as much as you don’t have to be defined by your past, only you can choose your future. You have all the makings of a strong leader when you believe the truth of today over the definitions of yesterday. Embrace your potential.  What goals or dreams do you need to resurrect and dust off? What past inscription do you need to cross out? It’s time for a new entry on the map of your future and it needs to be the one you write. Dare to believe that you have unlimited potential and a future full of possibilities. Just remember, those who have tried to contain you in your past won’t be part of your success in the future. Your story is yours for the making. Dream big. Work hard. Don’t look back.


© 2014 Doug Dickerson

If you enjoy reading Doug’s leadership insights you will especially enjoy his books, Leaders Without Borders & Great Leaders Wanted. Order them at