I recently found myself watching the movie Lincoln, which made me think about the map vs. compass debate.
This Steven Spielberg epic, provides a fascinating study in leadership. The particular scene that brought me to write this blog is the one between Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy Lee Jones and President Lincoln. portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis. A scene that truly depicts the map vs. compass, moral compass scenario.
We’re going to take an examination of this scene and the lessons that can be brought towards running our businesses, planning our financial future, and the dangers of listening to your moral compass.
Today’s inside look at building towards wealth:
In this scene, Stevens is exasperated.
His belief is that the President is moving too slowly in his effort to free the slaves and secure their rights in the US Constitution.
He urges Lincoln to heed his inner moral compass.
The response, which I cannot be sure if it’s truly Lincoln’s or the creation of the screenwriter on the classic Lincoln, homespun wisdom, self understanding.
And plenty of savvy!
He says, I used to do survey work, a compass will point to the true north from where you’re standing. But it’s got no advice about the swamps and the deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way. If we’re heedless of obstacles and sink in the swamp, what’s the use of knowing true.
Eventually Stevens, who was a devout abolitionist, had to speak in front of the House of Representatives during the debate on the 13th amendment.
The dilemma that he was presented with was that if he gave a full throated defense of his views, it would be amplified by the press. This would create fear among representatives, and lead to certain defeat of the 13th amendment.
Steven backed down from the purely principal position and softened his argument to the more palatable version that all men should be treated equally under the law.
And while that certainly angered some, this more moderated view helped pass the 13th amendment and end slavery in the United States.
Stevens could have stuck to his moral compass alone, and it would have steered him directly into the swamp.
He understood that he had to navigate the obstacles that were in front of him to be able to reach his ultimate goal. This was his true north.
Relevance with us
This type of challenge is common as we lead others in our business, and as we lead ourselves and our family, in our financial future.
When tested through struggle, we need to clarify which values are the most important to us. And oftentimes, this is a struggle between principles and pregnant pragmatism. Map Vs. Compass.
This helps us fashion a deep understanding of our moral compass. We must seek a path that simultaneously honors are true north. And at the same time, avoid the swamp.
We need to fully grasp this while having a clear understanding of what our true north is which is where the map vs. compass comes in.
And understand that there will be swamps and chasms and other obstacles along the way that we will navigate towards. And it will take us from what our expected path is.
It is through having a strong team around you that will make it easier to navigate these obstacles. Both in our business and our personal lives.
For some more information on finding the right financial path check out this article, Which Financial Path Is Right For You?