She Who Wanders May Not Be Lost

Most long trips into the backcountry will have one or more times when you wonder if you have lost your way. The forest seems a bit too dense for this to be a trail, or you have lost track of the blazes. Perhaps the sun has simply gone behind a cloud and your natural sense of direction feels shaky without a shadow to count on.

Recently I have been learning about “design thinking”. There is a famous diagram by Damien Newman that was his attempt to show the process from imagining the future, through discerning patterns to finally identifying a focus. This kind of feels the same as wondering if you are lost in the woods.


I have experienced this professionally both personally and in client interactions. Personally, when I am working on a complex project, I may spend days muddling around with false starts and “work attention deficit” feeling like I will never find an answer. But almost always, this process of wandering around in the “wilderness” of ideas and information results in an “aha” moment when the path forward becomes clear and the project flows freely. When this happens with clients, I have learned to call it out as the “groan zone”. We all hate the project, think it was a badly conceived idea and will be a total failure. The groan zone is unbearable and so eventually one or more people will start to discover a pathway out of it through a new consensus, a new insight or some new information.

There is nothing quite so exhilarating as discovering that you aren’t lost.