I’m not an avid NASCAR fan, but one doesn’t need to be to know that when a car travels into a neighboring lane it is a recipe for disaster. At some point, most of us have probably witnessed on television the quick and catastrophic result of a high-speed car merging into a neighboring lane and clipping the car next to them, which results in devastation that marvels the eye. Though we can clearly anticipate the outcome of such invasive maneuvering in a sport like NASCAR, it isn’t quite so obvious when it applies to everyday life.
Where do the devastating wrecks of life occur? When we are trying to invade a lane of responsibility that is not ours to travel. Not only do we tend to make a mess of someone else’s affairs, endeavors, tasks, and projects, but we also lose sight of what we are responsible for and do not finish the race victoriously. This is a principle that is not only applicable to life in general, but is critical for successful leadership. I will stick with the metaphor of cars and lanes and say that it isn’t that we cannot move into an area to assist where we are gifted and enabled to serve but, much like driving a car and wanting to move into a lane beside you that is already occupied, you must ask permission by signaling your intent. If you do not apply proper etiquette then you are at risk of creating a wreck or, at the very least, making someone mad. Either way, your most sincere intentions become counterproductive to what they produce.
Each of us in leadership has been set in specific lanes where we are to run our race. Each lane has a set of hurdles that are ours to overcome, and we cannot be successful in overcoming our hurdles if we are preoccupied with our neighbors. Know your responsibilities, prioritize your tasks, and prepare accordingly for your endeavors so that you finish your race with success. Be careful that you do not become a busybody looking to control what you perceive to be the best outcome for everyone else and leave behind a wake of wreckage that you never intended to create. If you see where you have something to offer in support and service of another’s need, apply proper leadership etiquette in signaling to them your availability. You accomplish this by asking, encouraging, praying, and affirming people, not by interfering, criticizing, blaming, complaining or attacking them. And always be self-aware as to your motives. Are they motives of control, fear, pride, or frustration? Or are they motives of love and support with a genuine desire to see one succeed?