How are you really, really, or: What about my inner compass?


I have asked countless managers all over the world this question over the past 25 years. What about your inner compass? Who’s in your „north“? Who is the person who helps you not to lose sight of the direction? Who really cares about you? Who asks you the all-important question: “How are you really doing?”

Executives, managers, teachers, mothers, fathers, politicians and all those people, who are responsible for others almost always answer the same:

“I haven’t heard the question about me for a long time. I look after others all day long, my employees, children, projects, students. I can tell you who is in my “south” of the compass rose. I can tell who I’m asking the question to, but I don’t have anyone in my “north” right now.“

The compass rose of our relationships is so much more important to a healthy life balance than the best time management. We could say that the “Social Life Balance” beats the “Work Life Balance” by far. As social beings we need people in all “cardinal points”. We need people in our “south” who we care about. We ask them the question, “how are you doing? We are happy when we can do something good for other people. It’s not for nothing that the bible says: “Giving is happier than taking.” With increasing age, more and more people accumulate in the south. It is right to be committed to our own relationships and to the children. Employees want to be respected and valued, students want to be heard and taught. We take care of the village development. Commit ourself to the voluntary fire brigade and care about recruiting volunteers. I have the feeling with mid-50s: The “south” is overpopulated. Friendships at eye level, or in the picture of the compass rose on the horizontal “East-West”, hardly take place anymore. No time, too many people in the south who all need me.

Do you have a “North” in your life? People who help you, who see you, who encourage you, who cheer you on, who just love you?

Without the people in my north, my marriage would have failed, I would be regularly overwhelmed with the complexity of my life and would have a permanent subscription in the burnout corner.

Go look for “your north.” We need all the people in the north, south, east and west. The “north” people don’t ring at your door. Get up and find “your north,” you need these people as much as I do!