Cairn (kern) noun, A mound of stone built as a memorial or landmark.

If you spend any length of time out on remote trails you will see and appreciate cairns. They are left by kind souls to let us know we are on the right path or to advise of new paths.

I saw a bunch of cairns recently on a hike back to a historic (and unfinished) railroad tunnel in the Mogollon Rim country of eastern Arizona. The last scramble was through a jumble of broken rocks combined with a dead fall of ponderosa pine. I would not have persisted if not for the periodic stacks of stone leading me on.

Markers make a big difference. They reduce ambiguity and help us to move faster, persist longer, and keep us from going someplace we do not want to be.

In a strange airport, I am glad when there is ample signage for gates, exits, and rental cars. The best events (whether a wedding or a networking event) have clear and continuous signage to get guests to the exact location they need to be.

How many markers are you using? Do people know when their performance or behaviors are in bounds or out of bounds? How far down the path are they before they realize it?

Do people know the progress on team and organizational goals? Do they know how far or how close they are to attaining those goals? Do they know how much longer they need to persist? Do they know what steps they need to take next?

The more markers a leader can put out there the better. Just because we are close to the end doesn’t diminish the importance of people knowing it. Good markers not only keep people on the path, they keep people persistent in the climb and over the hard scrambles.