Seems like everyone’s talking about their “inner compass.” Contrary to what we think, where it’s pointing doesn’t matter. But something else does.
“Is your inner compass pointing you in the right direction?”
I overheard that question asked the other day, and it stopped me in my tracks.
Not because I don’t believe we all have some sort of internal moral compass, no matter how much the expression has become an overused cliché.
But mostly because the question didn’t make much sense.
To me, our inner compass is the sum of the values and core beliefs we hold dear. It represents an innate sense of right-versus-wrong.
In other words, our compass is always pointing in the right direction. Whether we choose to follow it is another question entirely.
In fact, our internal moral compass is really no different than a real compass. If the needle points north and we know we need to go north and yet choose not to, well, we can’t blame the compass for getting us lost. We just went in the wrong direction.
The examples of people deviating from where their inner compass points are everywhere: politicians who break the public’s trust, company employees who cheat their employers, the spouse who is unfaithful. The unfortunate list goes on and on.
A Guide for Everything
Somewhere inside me, my compass points the right way for interacting with people and accomplishing my life’s goals. It is what guides everything I do: How I interact with my family and friends. How I conduct myself among my coworkers. Even how I work out.
For example, my inner compass constantly reminds me – not that any reminder is needed – that my family is the most important thing in my life and that I always need to put their needs first.
It even guides the way I approach my fitness objectives. Nobody else cares, or would even know, if I skip the last mile of my afternoon run or complete just 40 of the 50 pushups I wanted to do. But my inner compass tells me that these activities are vital to maintaining my health. So I complete them because if I don’t, I’m robbing myself of the benefits.
In business, my inner compass tells me to be honest with my coworkers and to treat them with respect. Not just because that’s how I hope they’d treat me, but also because it’s the right thing to do.
I’m not worried about where my inner compass is pointing, because I’m pretty sure it’s the right direction. Like all of us, I just need to pay attention to it, reflect on it and make sure I’m following it.