Guidance Systems

We are constantly in search of what to do and how to do it. We want answers. We’d even like the steps provided. A detailed How-To. Maybe a shortcut.

Could you do it for me?

Some things we must do ourselves. We’ve mostly caught on to that at this point. But maybe we haven’t fully internalized it. We find comfort in being told. Prescribed.

Does this not cause you anxiety? Is this not what makes us zombies?

I’m the first one to check in on best practices, to compare notes with others, to cut my workload of the heavy lifting when I know I’m walking a path that has been well worn by others before me and I do not need reinvention.

However, certain things in life must simply be done. And it is usually those things that require us to listen. Many of us don’t know how. I’m guilty.

Open minds and a machete. Let’s cut a path.


When was the last time you felt elated? The kind of elation that brings a wave rushed across your body and you’re left thinking, knowing, you’ve got goosebumps?

When were you last so at sync with what you were doing you lost your sense of time?

Can you recall when your mind was verbally silent? Have you ever embraced silence?

The natural environment is wordless. Be inside it.

That elation. Was there a feeling of expansion? Recognize it. Know to follow it. Your body is speaking to you.

We sleep in a cell. Commute in a vessel. Work in a box.

When was the last time you embraced and experienced a sunrise outside of one of the above confinements?

Gaze on the horizon. Look deep into the stars. Feel the universe.

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” ― Joseph Campbell

There are many paths. Most are presented to us. Some we learn about too late. Either way, people have already been, and that’s comforting. Have you read Robert Frost? This wisdom is not new.

But there is no guide for cutting your own path. It requires listening. Seeing the clues. Being open to their reception in the first place.

It requires a bravery that I sometimes doubt within myself. Then I get pissed that it’s me that is betraying myself.

I followed a sign in Nepal. It pointed us to the next bridge. The path was certainly the path less traveled. But, it was, according to the sign, the path towards the village we needed to get to. The path, steep and overgrown, eventually led to a rope bridge, high above a rushing cold, white, boulder-ridden river. Ropes fraying. What prayer flags had survived were bleached and frayed, the wooden slats hadn’t fared much better.

Shell and I kissed in encouragement as I went first. One of us on the bridge at a time. This thing was on its last leg.

A quarter way across Shell starts yelling. She spotted another bridge. A much newer one. We turn around and hike back up to the main path to source the other way across the gorge.

Listen. Iterate. Be open. You’ll mess up, like we did. But don’t fear.

Some of our ‘mess ups’ were the best part of our year. Sometimes I wish we had more.

Let go.

Stop caring about impact and just be the best version of you possible, then you’ll naturally have an impact. – Naval

Retool your guidance system. One not geared by culture and expectation. Not shoulds and Have-tos. But by listening to your inner self.

What do you need most right now? Don’t intellectualize it. Take the breadcrumb, and build.

We fear feelings, but that fear means we fear life.

We think we will leap when we know the answers. But to get somewhere we need to leap far before answers are known.

Embrace the unknown awhile. Embrace the silence. The first clue may just find you.

Photo: A Night Under the Perseids | Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Inspiration: Boyd Varty

By Daniel Hatke

The author was born and raised in Indiana. After graduating from Purdue University he worked in the asset management industry in New York City. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School with concentrations in finance and entrepreneurship. Currently, he is fueling his curiosities through taking time off for extended travel and experiences in Europe and Asia, as chronicled here.