5 Things We Can Learn From The Freeway

In 2010, USA Today reported that there were roughly 210 million licensed drivers in the United States. 90% of those drivers are on the road five days a week, commuting to and from their job. I wasn’t able to find a stat to back this up, but I would safely guess that the majority of those drivers take at least one freeway (or highway) while on their way to work.

That is a ton of people spending a lot of time on the freeway. Think about all of the different places that you spend a majority of your time. Work, school, jail. Well, hopefully not the last one. At each place, you are there so much you can’t help but learn a thing or two. Can the same be said for the freeway?

You betcha. Which brings us to today’s installment of Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects.

(Note: When I refer to freeway, I also include highway, motorway or anything else you may call your controlled-access road)

1. Life Takes More Than Speed

Freeways are great because they are fast. You can travel miles and miles and avoid dozens of traffic lights, but unless you live and work on the side of a freeway, you will have to encounter a slower road at some point during your commute to and from work. Freeways won’t get you all the way home. They may take you most of the way, but somewhere along the line you’ll have to slow down before you can complete your journey.

The same thing can be said for pretty much everything in life. Any great architect, artist or athlete would prefer to zip through their development. Who wouldn’t want to get things done as fast as possible. But in order to finish successfully, we all must slow down and take care of the little things at one time or another.

2. Change Can Be Worth The Pain

Don’t you just hate when there is roadwork being done on your freeway? Lanes are restricted and traffic is slowed. It makes your trip more complicated and you usually have to add an extra 5-10 minutes to your commute. It can be painful at the time, but the result of that roadwork is almost always worth it. The outcome is very positive once lanes are added and freeways are freshly paved.

Change in our personal and professional lives reminds me a lot of making an adjustment to the freeway. It is a pain. It can be complicated and it causes us to switch up our routine. But just as the result of freeway work can be positive, the same can be said about the tweaks that happen in our lives.

3. Avoid Overload

A few months ago, I spent a Wonder Why Wednesday post looking at how traffic builds up even when there is no accident. Basically it boils down to this…too many cars are on the road at once. With 210 million drivers, no wonder this happens frequently. Sometimes we have to get off the busy freeway and take a different path to work.

Does your industry feel like a jam-packed freeway? Is it overcrowded with the same outdated ideas? The great thing about people is there are a lot of dreams out there. Unfortunately many people have the same dream, or they go about a dream the same way. Just like how too many drivers cause traffic, too many dreamers can cause your idea to feel backed up. When that happens, the best thing you can do is be unique and take a different path to work.

4. Stay In Your Lane

If you are lucky enough to be on a freeway without traffic, you know the feeling. The feeling of open field running. All you have to do is keep your eyes on the road,stay in your lane and set the cruise control.

In his book, Talk Like Ted, author Carmine Gallo says that one public speaking secret is to “stay in your lane.” Gallo explains that in order to get your message across, you need to be authentic, open and transparent. People can spot a phony. The best thing you can do is be yourself. Keep your eyes up, put the cruise control on and follow your core purpose to become the best representation of who you really are.

5. It Is Good To Have Rumble Strips

No matter how much you are paying attention, every now and then your car may start to veer into the lane next to you. Luckily for us, freeways are built with rumble strips. You know, those bumps in between lanes that remind you not to text and drive. Without those we might cause some serious damage to our self and others.

I tried to come up with the human equivalent to the rumble strip. The best I could come up with was what might be known as a gut feeling. But I think it can happen in many forms. It may be your stomach telling you something is not quite right. It may be a good friend reminding you not to date jerks. It may be a vague memory of an experience that sent you back on the right path. Whatever it is in your life, pay attention to it. Without it, we might just cause some serious damage to our self and others.



Photo credit: Wikipedia