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August 26th, 2018

Many of the things we ask ourselves and others have severely poor wording:


“I’m so unlucky”


“I suck at this”


“I could never do that”






When a group is discussing their direction or a person is contemplating what the next move should be, often some variation of this comes about:


“Are we on the right track?”


“Am I on the right track?”


The mistake of this phrasing here is not so obvious.


Compared to a hiking trail, a railroad track has a ridiculously high degree of exactitude. 


A track’s direction is far more certain than a hiking trail with wandering forks and dead-ends.


Being on the right track?  There’s no hazy in-between space there.  You are either on the right track or you are not.


Being on the right hiking trail?  That’s a far more nuanced and debatable question. 



And yet, when the question “are we on the right track?” is used, it is always in a situation when some unknown solution is trying to be developed.  Whether it be a product for a company to sell, a conversation during a difficult period in a relationship, or even tasting an impromptu recipe being developed on the fly.


The problem is with the word ‘track’ and the implications that it carries.  It indicates that the current direction is either right or wrong.  This is not how creative, flexible, agile solutions are discovered.


If we seek an unknown place that has never been seen or thought of, then it’s guaranteed that no one has gone before and laid the tracks that we can follow.


In fact, the hiking trails to such a place do not exist either.


We must be willing to abandon the train station signs and the arrows where the trail forks.


Our COMPASS must incorporate a larger experience of the environment.


A true explorer uses signs of a truly gargantuan nature compared to train-station signs and hiking trail arrows.


The Moon, the Sun, and the stars place the exploring-environment in a vast context.  Such signs are not only huge but require a perspective that incorporates billions, even trillions of miles.


We have developed an affinity for “Are we on the right track” because a track has a high degree of certainty.


The very phrasing is part of a coping-mechanism to combat a FEAR of the unknown.


Embracing the unknown enables a far more liberating set of ideas and phrasing.


Instead of “Are we on the right track?”


We might ask:


“Are we wandering in productive areas?”


This episode references Episode 57: Compass and Episode 63: The Etymology of Fear.  If you'd like to fully explore these references, please check out either of these episodes next. 

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

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Podcast Ep. 133: The Right Track

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