The Fantastic Life

The Map Is Not the Territory

For decades, I have used a baseball analogy when I coach people.  I call it learning bunt defense.  In baseball, you have to learn how to defend against the bunt very early (Little League).  Kids learn the idea of bunt defense pretty easily.  However, as we know learning what to do and actually executing it are two completely different things.  I remember working on bunt defense, every week of my life and at every level, I played until I got released from the Twins— just so we could actually execute it during a game.

Having been a backpacker for the last 30 years, I now have a new analogy that I love even more: “The map is not the territory.” -Alfred Korzybski.  What does this mean?  When I am planning a hike, we look at the map and it looks easy, go here, cross this river, climb this mountain. Easy right?  Nope, the terrain is full of rocks, trees, bushes, water, you name it.

Both of these analogies mean the same thing: knowing something and actually being able to execute or to do it are two completely different things.  We have to learn then we still have to execute.

Korzybski goes on to say, don’t discredit your map because life is messy and things go sideways. We still need goals, habits, etc. and we need to test our theories…then we can choose how to handle the obstacles.

There is no article this week — instead, I got this quote and info from this podcast. You can fast forward to 4 min for the meat, but the whole podcast is short less than nine minutes.

The Map is Not the Territory.

Rule #3 from my book The Fantastic Life:Build Your Resumes Every Year
The only way to improve is to do. Learning and reading are crucial to your journey, but you need to execute and put your knowledge into practice.

The Map

By Martin Grunburg

“The map is not the territory.” ~Alfred Korzybski

Alfred Korzybski was a Polish-American independent scholar who developed general semantics, which he viewed as both distinct from, and more encompassing than, the field of semantics.

He argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed. (A topic previously covered here.

Thus, Korzybski posited, no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain’s responses to reality.

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