North that is calculated by using an imaginary line through the Earth rather than by using a compass: the direction that leads to the North Pole.
The direction from any point along a meridian toward the North Pole. Also called: geographic north.
[The Free Dictionary by Farlex]
Non-negotiable, since the compass will show where it is, relative from your current position, and it will never change.
In his 2007 leadership book with the same name, author Bill George describes the True North as the internal compass that guides a person successfully through life. It represents who you are as a human being at your deepest level. It is your orienting point- your fixed point in a spinning world. It helps you stay on track toward authenticity.
Nobody seems to know or care which way is north these days.
The last week in the news has been particularly unsettling and my own True North tells me to avoid the television. In the wake of the white supremacy rally in Virginia that left several dead, watching the news and reading the divisive information feeds on social media is disturbing.
It might be reality, but it doesn’t feel good to see or hear and I’m sick of the negativity. There are plenty of wonderful things going on in the world to choose to listen to.
What’s sad is this will only get worse. Across the board, we are making gross generalizations about one another, it is damaging, and not one single person can sincerely say the hatred and ugliness, at the core, feels good.
Not one. (Even the politically extreme military officer who I had to block from my Facebook feed because reading his hateful rhetoric literally made my body hurt.)
The truth is that we were all created in love and love is our True North.
Think about it.
We become unsettled when our thoughts, words, and behavior are inconsistent with love. It is the reason we feel true freedom when we choose to forgive and love someone instead of deciding to hold a grudge against them. It is the reason we experience peace when we choose to let go of anger. Love is the reason we crave a sense of belonging from others.
We have an inner compass but so many times we ignore it. This manifests itself in so many ways.
I have both experienced this personally and repeatedly witnessed it in the scope of my career.
It was the summer of 2015 and Karen, who lived 250 miles away from me, showed up on my doorstep unannounced and sobbing.
She needed a referral for a bankruptcy lawyer.
(Karen and I attended law school together, but she got married soon after graduation and never practiced. Likewise, she never formed strong connections with our classmates and, while I am not a bankruptcy attorney, I think I was the closest person Karen could trust for a recommendation.) Karen came to me for help, and it was my job to help her, regardless of what I had to do and who to ask to get there.
I was shocked and saddened that things were not going well for her family. Judging solely from the life Karen portrayed on social media, I would have assumed everything was not only fine, but significantly above average.
She and her husband had two beautiful children in a private school who were always dressed in gorgeous, expensive clothing. They just returned from a month-long Alaskan cruise. They were members of a fancy country club- the one with a four-year wait list. She preferred the Bergdorf and Barney stores to the Sam Walton ones.
Shuddering, Karen gently placed her ostrich skin Birkin on top of my kitchen counter and described the slow chain of events that led to her and her husband’s financial pitfall.
Wasn’t complicated- they just spent and spent and spent. They didn’t care that his once-successful small business was failing because they assumed things would get better and they needed to keep up with the Joneses and the Richardsons and the Smiths and the Goldbergs and…
It was exhausting.
They were broke, their credit was shot, they had no savings, and they were renting a house they could barely afford and driving six-figure vehicles to maintain an image and there was no turning back.
They were social hustlers.
But here’s the interesting thing:
Karen said she hated it.
She hated it from the beginning and, as it continued, her hatred for it grew worse. She could have stopped the spending years ago but she didn’t and there was no good reason she didn’t.
She just didn’t.
And now her life was a mess.
She got into the mess because she ignored her True North of loving herself.
Abandoned the authenticity for something she candidly acknowledged didn’t even feel good to begin with.
I love Karen. And I have known so many Karens. I’ve been a Karen- ignoring what my conscience was telling me to do and then paying for it later.
What is the True North?
It is the voice that tells us to leave an unhealthy relationship.
The one that tell us to pick up the phone and make amends with someone who deserves an apology.
The gesture that pushes us to visit our grandparents on what might be the last time.
The crummy feeling we get after we’ve yelled at our kids over something stupid.
The disgusting feeling we get when we watch the news and see strangers driving into other strangers in vans. When we see people rioting and burning things.
We need to stop ignoring what is bad and start doing what feels good (not what feels good in the “right now,” but instead, what will feel good in the big picture long run.)
It’s that easy.
Cheers to being guided by your True North.