Knowing Yourself Keeps you from Getting Lost

business-strategiesI recently had the great fortune to visit Amsterdam. My husband was ending a whirlwind business trip there and I met him in the city for a few days.

Before the trip, I sought the counsel of a friend who had lived there for years. She strongly urged me to take a train to our hotel from the airport. She gave me directions. They seemed simple enough.

My husband and step mother-in-law both scoffed at this idea. Knowing my natural inclination to save a buck, they worried I was making my own life harder by trying to save the cost of cab fare. “You’re on vacation!” they chorused. “Make your life easy, relax, and take a cab. Just indulge for once, Kristin.

After disembarking the plane not having slept a wink, I debated both courses of action. I headed towards the train. Weary and in need of a shower, I hesitated at the last second, full of doubt. Did I really remember the directions correctly? Would it really be as easy as I thought? Was my natural inclination towards frugality and independence really making my life harder? Perhaps it was.

I took a deep breath and plunged outside towards the cab line.

Cozy inside my taxi, I told the driver which hotel I needed to go to. He glanced back at me and asked “The location in Amsterdam?” I confirmed that our hotel was in Amsterdam near Zuid Station. He nodded and took me to a hotel with the correct name. I gasped at the final price, reminded myself that occasionally a splurge is OK if it saves your sanity, and paid him 56 Euros, roughly $90.

Upon entering the hotel, they were quick to tell me they had no reservation for me. In fact, I should be at a hotel across town, much closer to the airport. They gave me directions to the correct location via the train.

The whole way there, I cursed myself. I had wasted time, money and added stress to my vacation simply by ignoring my own instincts. I doubted that I knew the directions well enough. I doubted that I was being practical rather than cheap. I tried to change my nature and ended up on the train anyway.

Most importantly, I doubted that I knew what works best for me.

You see, I love successfully navigating a thriving city using public transportation. It’s a great way to see the city and to determine what you want to see up close later. It also gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. I am good at it. It makes me feel comfortable in new surroundings. And, hey, if it saves a few bucks, so much the better, right?

All too often, we let this happen in our business lives as well. A friend exclaims that Pinterest MUST be part of your business strategy. Although you cannot understand how that might help you land a much longed for book deal, you spend hours pinning recipes in the hopes you’ll build a following.

The truth is, Pinterest is not the right strategy for your business. It’s a huge driver for some and a time suck for others. To be sure it or any social media platform is right for you, you need to understand your product, your goals, your customers, the time commitment and the platform. The perfect social media strategy for one business is not going to be same as for the next business.

I will note, I think it is important to listen to outside input in life and business. Getting others’ thoughts can shed light on issues you didn’t know you had and solve problems you did not have the right perspective to solve. However, your final decision should be yours because only you know how you work best and what drives you.

If you let others be the sole driver for your strategic business decisions, you risk getting lost in the crowd.


  1. Alexandra

    Wonderful visual for me, as I have to stop cursing myself when I don’t do what I see others do.

    And I wonder, should I? Is it good for me? It works for others, they say it does.
    This is my adventure, right? I know myself best.

    Thanks, Eli.

  2. Tom

    I like this. Great reminder to listen to your gut and respect your nature while still inviting outside suggestions.
    Thanks for sharing, fellow cheapskate.


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