Our last house was located on a very busy street. The first ten minutes of my commute to work was spent tensely poised at the end of my driveway waiting to catapult my car into the smallest break of creeping traffic. This was tricky, because apparently this particular street had been reserved for people who had Very Important Places to be and therefore could not let anyone get into line in front of them.
300 feet down the road was the next hurdle: THE ROTARY. A fun game for me to play each morning was deciding which rotary approach to take. Option one was “Operation Passive”. If I had the time, I would enter the rotary and then patiently count how many cars it took before one would acknowledge my right of way and let me through. If I was in a feisty mood, it was “Operation Aggressive” where I would brazenly course through, foot on the gas, actively asserting my “right of way” to the joyous cacophony of blaring (though misinformed) horns. (Public service announcement: If you or someone you know slept through driving school and missed the part about how to drive in a rotary. Click here. Seriously. CLICK IT!!!! And pay close attention to Step 5, I beg you.)
Anyhoo, another 500 feet or so was the high school. Now back in my day, while I didn’t have to walk 10 miles, barefoot, in the snow, uphill (both ways) to school, I DID walk. And so did most everyone else. Either that or we took the bus. At this same high school today, I think both parents drive separate cars to drop off each kid. And it must be the only quality family time they get as evidenced by the ETERNITY it took them to exit the car and move on.
Finally, I was free to make my way to the highway. Okay, deep breath, relax the shoulders. GODAMIT WHY IS THAT GUY ON MY TAIL????? I’M ALREADY GOING 80!!!! (Rinse, repeat)
And this is how I would arrive to work. Every day. Sometimes I was in a good mood despite it all. Sometimes I was enraged. Sometimes I was so rattled I couldn’t think straight.
As managers and as professionals, we need to be aware of our surroundings and how they impact us. We need to be purposeful about what we subject ourselves to and how we can smooth the edges in our lives so that the important stuff gets the attention it deserves. We need to be smart, alert, open and thoughtful in order to successfully navigate our way through the rapid fire environments we live and work in.
And we can’t do that if we’re constantly piqued.
I made some changes to my own commute. Now, I pull out onto a quiet country road, pass the reservoir as the sun drizzles over the sparkling water’s edge and inhale the deep damp pine of the forest as I make my way to the highway. I drive a VW convertible that makes me happy and makes others smile in spite of themselves. My biggest worry (at least until I get to the highway) is whether I might hit a deer.
What changes can YOU make? Get up earlier? Slow down? Say no? Play more? Whatever change you choose. You will not believe the difference.
And one final word: Do not underestimate the role of proper rotary management in achieving world peace.