Your personal North Star

Published 3:10 pm Monday, August 16, 2010

Before the introduction of modern technology, the North Star was used as a stable point in the sky for mariners to navigate by for centuries.&bsp; It is the one star that stays in the same location consistently in contrast to other stars and constellations, like the big and little dippers, that revolve around it with the changing seasons.

Although technology has almost eliminated the reliance on the North Star for navigational purposes, there is a principle from it that can be used by each of us to help guide us to some degree of success in our daily lives.

Although the ancients never reached the North Star, it was always there as a reference point.

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Another similar modern-day illustration might be an airplane on auto-pilot, as it also uses some of the same principles.&bsp; It has a destination, which, hopefully it will reach, but, it is probably at least slightly off-course 99% of the time, making many very minor corrections to stay on course so that it eventually arrives at its destination.

In terms of application of these principles to each of our lives, first we need to establish a personal North Star.&bsp; It should be one that we never totally reach, and, if we approach it, we should redefine it to a higher level.&bsp; There should be intermediate steps that we do reach to track our progress and give us a sense of accomplishment on our journey. &bsp;

Part of the value of having a personal North Star is that we now have a reference point to check our actions and direction and progress against.&bsp; Then we, like the airplane or the sea-going sailors of the past, can make changes to keep us on track to where we want to be and go in life.&bsp; Whenever we want to begin a new endeavor or direction in life, we should always ask ourselves the question, Does this move me closer to, or further away from, my North Star?

This has some similarity to traditional goal setting, with interim sub-goals, with a couple of exceptions.&bsp; One is that your North Star is a much broader, almost all-encompassing, concept.&bsp; Secondly, as mentioned above, you should move your North Star before you ever reach it constantly giving you something to strive for.

Some of the pitfalls of this, or many other processes, is not realistically setting appropriate sub-goals.&bsp; There are people that will set sub-goals at a level that they know they will never achieve.&bsp; Consciously, or subconsciously, they are planning failure so that, after a few times, little will be expected of them.&bsp; On the flip-side, there are others who will sometimes set their sub-goals too low and become bored with their level of progress or success. &bsp;

It has been said, A life without goals is a life wasted.

So, what is your North Star?&bsp; If you dont have one, you might want to seriously consider making it a priority and giving it some thought.&bsp; If you do have one, have you looked at it lately?&bsp; Are you still using an old traditional star, or are you operating with the latest technology, or somewhere in between?&bsp; Which will work best for you and your life?

Remember, Flying by the seat of your pants is non-directional.&bsp; If you want to truly soar and reach a higher level, you might want to establish and follow that personal North Star!&bsp; And, may you then enjoy the journey!

Dr. Jim Murphy of Polk County is the founder and president of J.W. Murphy & Assoc., Inc. (, a consulting company that helps individuals and organizations in their journey toward excellence.