1. People who are lost at first deny they’re lost. They’re confident that they do know where they are, they just can’t find any familiar signs. Everything’s okay, they still know where they’re going, the maps are still correct. But gradually, confronted with strange and unfamiliar sights, anxiety seeps in. They speed up their activities, urgently wanting to verify that they’re not lost. Those lost on a mountain walk faster or go in circles; those lost in a failing project work faster, longer, harder, and go in circles.
2. At this point, doubt and uncertainty creep in. People become angry and impatient, pushing aside any information that doesn’t confirm their map. They become desperate to find the smallest scrap of information that proves they know where they are. They reject all other information; they treat as enemy the very information that would help them get unlost, pushing it and its messengers aside.
3. When this strategy fails, people reach the point when they can no longer deny that they’re lost. Fear and panic set in; stressed and scared, their brains stop working. They can’t think straight, so every action they take is senseless, only creating more exhaustion and more problems.
4. By now, confused and panicked, people search frantically for any little sign that’s familiar, the smallest shred of evidence that makes them feel unlost. But they are lost, so this strategy fails and they continue to deteriorate.