® ianmunroe

Who the f*&% is driving?!

In my last post about the “opportunity cost of excuses” I discussed the idea of our culture’s addiction to canceling plans. I suggested that technology enables that addiction and reduces our trustworthiness—primarily because we have infinite excuses, paired with instant communication a keystroke away.

I want to take it a step further. I was inspired by the lovely Merlin Mann interview on The Great Discontent. Here’s the snippet that inspired me:

This idea of “driving your vehicle” is an important one. Accepting responsibility for this is both empowering and frightening. Empowering because it allows you to steer this thing where you want—frightening because you’re capable off driving this motherf’er off a cliff.

Let the “Life as Driving” metaphor commence.

Buckle up.

NOT IN A LIMOUSINE

I hope this doesn’t startle you…but you’re not sitting in the backseat of a stretch limo. You’re not getting chauffeured around, in fact, you’re probably wearing that cute little driver’s cap. But hey, I think it looks nice on you.

We like to ride in the backseat because we like to pretend we’re not driving. We act like we’re not in control. We make excuses.

However, we’re driving, and the reality is this: road conditions change. Inclement weather happens. Sometimes a jerkoff in a Hummer swerves into your lane.This is life. You DO NOT control everything. But you DO control your vehicle. Accept that. Start driving better.

I should warn you though, accepting this worldview can really suck.

It sucks because we don’t get to cede ourselves to the whims of the world. We don’t allow ourselves to play the victim anymore (even when we are). That doesn’t mean you can’t feel sad. And it certainly doesn’t mean you can control the things that happen to you…people close to you will die. Your job will be difficult. You may struggle to find love. You might have health problems. Your dog might have health problems. Your company might go out of business. A hurricane could destroy your home. Tons of bad stuff can happen, guys. But don’t blame the world for what happens after—you’re the one who navigates away from the wreckage.

You can feel bad for yourself, you can wallow in the unfairness of it all. Or you can recognize your inability to control all things in your life. You can acknowledge it, revel in it, keep your hands on the wheel and drive onward. Reroute Google Maps and hit the road.

GETTING WHERE YOU’RE HEADED

So. Let’s say you’ve accepted responsibility for your vehicle. Hands on the wheel at 10 and 2, or 9 and 3…Or one hand at 12, cruising and bumping to T.I.’s Ridin’ Dirty. Up to you.

So. Now what? What does it mean?

It means you’re the one who decides (mostly) where you’re going. Life typically (see: always) prevents the ideal A to B route we’d like. Any number of things (road construction, flat tire, missed turn, etc.) could sidetrack us. But if we’re focused and consistent, we can keep making progress toward our target. That’s the secret here—persistence and the ability, or willingness, to modify our itinerary.

CONTROLLING YOUR TIME

If you’re driving—if you’re the one who makes things happen, and you claim responsibility for your work and your output, that means the only person who is going to make it happen…is you.

If you want to get to Los Angeles. If you want to make it to ____ city, _____ job, ______ anything—you’re the one who has to drive there. The more time and energy you spend on that route, the quicker you’ll get there (and the more likely you’ll eventually reach said goal). This means controlling your time. It means you can’t say “I didn’t get there because of blah blah, or blah blah.” Honestly? It means saying “no” to more things, people, etc.

I’ve started saying no to a lot, which is really, really, reeeeeeally hard for me. For the past few years I’ve done everything I possibly could. Because I wanted the experiences. I was searching, on a path of self-discovery. I haven’t come to the end of that path (we never do), but I am more confident in that path—thus, if I want to get further down the path I need to control my time, energy, effort.

Stop using “yes” as an excuse not to reach your destination.
You’re driving. If you want to stop off along the way, that’s up to you.

LET’S CARPOOL.

Aziz Ansari was on the Nerdist podcast recently and he said something that struck me. He was talking about “coming up” on the comedy scene:

“Once you start getting up in whatever your field is and you realize… ‘oh man, like, everyone’s pretty fucking nice and cool.’ Like, is it a coincidence that Amy Poehler is the coolest nicest person? Will Ferrel, the nicest fucking dude? At a certain point it’s like ‘oh man, that is a part of this.’
You have to be a nice person that people want to work with. When you get to a certain point you can’t just do it by yourself. You need to have a whole team of people and have a group of people that’s supporting you to work on stuff.”

If you want to stay on the road, on the path to your destination, you can’t do it alone. It takes a damn army. Or two sometimes.

And guess what? No one wants to ride with a jerk. No one wants to fix a jerk’s tire. No one wants to give a jerk some gas. Unlike most other things, you can control your attitude. You can be kind, be nice, be empathetic. Do this right and you’ll get where you’re headed a lot faster. Because you can’t make it there alone, probably, no matter how talented you are. Collaboration is key.

ARE WE THERE YET?

Well, you’ve finally made it, you’ve “arrived”! Congrats.
Whoa. Wow. Phew. Helluva trip, huh?

I hope this next sentence doesn’t pop all four of your tires and light your engine on fire…

You don’t ever get there.

You read it right, friend. Regardless of your “destination” (which, let’s be real, will probably change many times on this journey) you’re never going to arrive. It’s really just something that gives you purpose and meaning and happiness. Even when you “make it” you’re really still on the road. That’s what this thing is: one big journey.

One big, crazy, messy, dirty, awesome, sexy, sad, depressing, horrible, beautiful, perfectly imperfect fuckin’ road trip. Life.
Will you start driving? Will you take accountability for where you end up? Or will you blame some other driver? Will you pretend you’re just along for the ride?

I’m driving my vehicle. Happy to pick up friends along the way.

Even happier to prove that you’e in control of your particular vehicle. Because that knowledge could change your life.

Let me know if I can help.

/grant

writer x director x designer x photographer / creative direct @deathtostock / podcast @THE10KHRS / ex @Thisissethsblog

writer x director x designer x photographer / creative direct @deathtostock / podcast @THE10KHRS / ex @Thisissethsblog