I spend quite a bit of my life on this famous motorway, typically traveling from home in Lancashire into Liverpool to see family or clients or indeed traveling further south to the Midlands to see friends and also on business. While sat in the latest traffic jam last week, in a zone they have ironically labelled a ‘smart motorway’, I found myself thinking of the M6 as a metaphor for how we tend to progress towards our goals and plans in life.
If you think about the analogy of driving your car on the motorway. When you join the motorway, you often join from a junction slip road or side road of some sort. Although you might be going slower than the motorway traffic at that point, you typically know where you are heading, your destination point (i.e. your goal) and you know you need to be on this motorway at this point to get to your destination. So, we have a destination we’re heading to, we have joined the road that will get us there and quite quickly, we are up to the required speed and heading forwards. Easy-peasy!
Sometimes however and quite often nowadays, even though everything on the road appears to be OK and you are progressing along nicely, traffic suddenly begins to slow down and then comes to a standstill and for no obvious reason. You look for signs to inform you why there is a delay, you search for traffic news on the radio to try and understand why, but often without success. You may even start to get a bit annoyed or worried about time and missing appointments or commitments. The doubts begin to creep in as well – have I got water to drink, is there enough petrol in the tank, will I be able to hold on for the toilet!
Once the traffic stops, you still find yourself inching forward behind the car in front of you, every inch matters on the M6! Due to the other unwritten law of motorways, “that my lane is always slower than the other lanes”, you start to jump lanes when you think the traffic next to you is going quicker. You then get more frustrated when the traffic in the lane you have left appears to go quicker than the one you jumped into! However, all this time, you continue to take action to inch forward.
In the last few times I have been in such delays on the M6, suddenly and for no obvious reason, despite there being no accident or incident of note, the traffic suddenly speeds up again and you are suddenly back up to the necessary speed and progressing quickly towards your destination. All those doubts about time, water and needing the toilet begin to recede. You still have no idea why the traffic slowed, but it’s moving freely and you are back up to speed and even thinking of getting ‘there’ quicker.
At no point in the journey however, do you just park your car in the middle of the motorway, get out and start walking back up the motorway, announcing that you will not be driving the car anymore!
This is like the journey we need to make to achieve our goals in life. No matter how frustrating the ‘jam’ is, even if you have no idea what is creating it, you have to keep taking action to inch forward. Occasionally, if it’s not working, you will ‘change lanes’ to try and make progress, and that’s fine. What is essential to succeeding and getting to your destination however is that you keep taking action, patiently when it is needed and keep moving forward. It might take longer than expected, but you cannot get to your destination without moving forward.
Never get out the car and walk away from your goals, plans and aspirations in life, no matter how much the M6 frustrates you!
#management #business #leadership #motivation #successcode #keynotespeaker