This is a question I find myself asking A LOT when I am trying to figure out why the traffic in front of me is not moving even though the light is green and the path is otherwise clear. Invariably, a driver somewhere up the line is distracted by the text they are reading or sending and they haven’t looked up from their mobile phone.
For some reason, we are conditioned to think that it is rude to beep the horn at someone, so we all just sit politely while the distracted driver continues in his oblivion until he realizes that he hasn’t been paying attention. Eventually, we will all move forward again, but why should I be delayed because someone else isn’t paying attention? What is wrong with a friendly tap on the horn to snap someone back to reality?
As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing is unacceptable. The broader topic of distracted driving and the safety hazards it can create are well documented. I am speaking specifically about the delay in forward progress caused by one person’s distraction or lack of priority…unacceptable.
When I am behind the wheel of my car, I have a singular purpose and that is to get from point A to point B as safely and quickly as possible. I am in the car to go somewhere. I believe that if everyone felt that way about their travels, there would be a lot of happy commuters with more time on their hands to spend in other ways besides unnecessarily waiting for someone who doesn’t share the same set of priorities.
We should create and expect forward progress in everything that we are doing!
Forward progress should be an essential element of your life every day. If you are not moving toward the achievement of a goal, the completion of a task, or committed to learning something new, what are you doing? Even when you are relaxing or enjoying a holiday, part of the value of those times is re-energizing for the next round, the next challenge, or the next commute.
Many times, however, we are our own worst enemies and the ones most likely to be the delay in our own attempts to move forward.
So, what do you find yourself waiting for? At work, for instance, are you waiting for something to happen or are you making something happen? I’ll give you an example. How often do you find yourself waiting for someone to call you back? When you placed the call, did you leave a clear message stating the purpose of your call? Did you indicate when you would like to hear back from the person?
If you are waiting for something to happen, you may be coasting on the mere fact you placed the call. If you are making something happen, you made the call with purpose and you know exactly how long you will wait before you call that person back, or give that person a friendly tap on the horn, so to speak.
Here is another example. Are you waiting for your boss to notice the good work that you are doing or are you making your good work known? If you are fortunate enough to work in an environment that is collaborative and one, in which, you receive feedback about your job performance and where you are headed career-wise, be sure to take advantage of that good fortune by sharing your views and insight. If you wait until your merit review rolls around to do so, you may very well be disappointed.
Even if you have a manager who is switched on and interested in helping you to develop, he or she will only be as good as what they know. If they don’t know how you feel or what is important to you, they will be left to rely solely on their own experience to determine where your best fit is.
In other words, if you are interested in managing people someday, be sure to let your boss know so that you can be evaluated on that basis. If you really enjoyed a certain project or you were disappointed not to have been included on a new initiative, be sure to share your views with the people who were instrumental in making those decisions.
You can’t expect to stay silent and wait until your annual review hoping to be recognized as someone who is upwardly mobile. It may work out, but your chances of positively influencing how you are recognized and what you are recognized for are far greater if you do not wait to get actively involved.
What would happen if the police simply waited for the bad guys to turn themselves in? Or, what if your doctor told you just to wait until you felt better before you came in for a visit?
If you concentrate on the many, many times it is not acceptable to find yourself waiting; you will realize the importance and power of being proactive. When you are in a proactive mindset, you will be far more likely to be actively engaged in the management of your own life and the direction it takes.
The next time you ask yourself what you are waiting for, the answer may very well be…you!
Remember that what is important to you is very rarely as important to someone else, just like the distracted driver, who apparently has nowhere to go and all the time in the world to get there. Your purpose for being in the car takes a back seat if you don’t make it known, in an appropriate way, that you do have some place to go and you do not have all day to get there.
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.