This weekend, I and my family spent over 36 hours on Canada’s highways. Driving all the way from Winnipeg, MB to Slave Lake, AB provided a lot of opportunities to meet many different road personalities.
There are the drivers who are in absolutely no hurry to get to where they are going, instead choosing to enjoy the journey and many sites along the way. On the other end of the spectrum are the drivers who are entirely focused on the destination, spraying everyone behind them with dirty, salty road slush.
And then there are the drivers who don’t like sharing the road. They view someone’s signal to switch into their lane as an invitation to quickly speed up and ride the bumper of the car in front of them, ensuring the person can’t get in. They switch lanes without signaling and honk impatiently anytime they feel their road space is being invaded. They are the people who, when they are driving slowly on a two lane highway, refuse to pull over to the side of the road and let the long line of cars behind them get by, or, even worse, choose to speed up as soon as someone tries to pass. Their determination to own the road holds other back and puts lives in danger.
36 hours of driving time also provides a lot of time for thinking and as we encountered yet another driver who didn’t like to share the road, I started wondering, how many of us sometimes refuse to share the road on a professional level?
Do we ever hold someone back by refusing to share an opportunity for personal or professional growth? Do we hoard those opportunities or pull people in, asking for their help and guidance?
Are there times we put a team goal, an employee’s goal or a colleague’s goal in danger by cutting in front and focusing on our own agenda? How often, in relentless pursuit of our own goals, do we forget to check over our shoulder to see if that race to the finish is putting someone else’s goal in danger?
Have we ever been so afraid someone will pass us by that we deliberately block their efforts, in a vain effort to stay in front? Are there times when we could pull over and let someone else take the lead? Perhaps we can even give up the wheel and give someone else the chance to drive for awhile.
How often do we get impatient with peers or employees when we feel they are not catching on quickly enough or that they are holding us back and slowing us down? Do we berate them loudly or do we slow down, perhaps even stop for awhile and spend additional time coaching and mentoring them, helping them build their confidence and skill level to the point where they not only keep up, but get to the point of being able to lead?
It can be tempting to try and make the journey alone, to hoard opportunities and focus entirely on our own goals. The downside is that when we refuse to share the road, very often we are the ones that end up alone on the side of the road and all those people that we ruthlessly pushed aside in our rush to reach our destination, will pass us by as we wait for someone, anyone to stop and get us out of trouble.