“Stay In Your Lane!”

Because of my personality — read impatience — when caught in heavy traffic I’ve always had a tendency to stray across the lane markings in an effort to ensure that I ‘catch’ the lane that moves the fastest (If any of my cop friends are reading this I plead the fifth). Anyway, whenever one of my good friends, Sam Odia, happens to be riding with me he will often break conversation and say, “Joseph, stay in your lane!”

More recently I hired a young man to be the head trainer at our CrossFit box, and whenever I ask him to make a decision about something concerning the box, he’ll often remind me that I’m the boss and his job is to do it the way I want it done. Then he’ll remark, “You know coach, I’m just stayin’ in my lane!”

I’ve come to treasure those words deeply. You see, this will almost certainly be my last post for 2015, and since I’m always talking about being reflective and learning from the past so as to orchestrate a better future, I thought I’d share with you the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year… yep, you guessed it: “Stay in my lane!”

Amazingly, someone my wife and I have mentored for many years posted something on her Facebook time line that finally drove this home for me. I want to be sure that this post doesn’t sound like “sour grapes” (though to many of my detractors it matters little what I say to the contrary) so rather than post the entire quote I’m simply going to highlight a few things that stood out to me about the post and then I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.

“The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everyone…. Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t even want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds which will take precious time to heal…. Keep facing your true north.”

In other words, “Stay in your lane!”

I believe the quote stands alone in it’s profundity, but there remains something to be said, at least where I’m concerned. I’ve always been driven to achieve. I’ve always loved people. I’ve always wanted to help people find their “true north,” that place where you’re destined to fulfill your life’s purpose.

This isn’t in and of itself a bad thing. However it can become a distraction, and requires a skill akin to staying on point when preaching a sermon. Much like life itself, it’s so easy to stray from the path when you’re confronted with other ‘shiny things’ that are vying for your attention. The truth is, we’re not put on earth to do everything single thing that finds its way into our peripheral vision. We must find our true north!

This year I finally learned that, every time I sink my teeth into something solid because I’m certain it’s what God has called me to, there are other ‘shiny things’ that catch my eye and threaten to draw me away from my greater purpose. Fortunately, in my fifth decade of life, I’m finally beginning to recognize a pattern. This is good progress and is truly beneficial as it helps me stay focused.

Sometimes I stay focused by putting on blinders and stubbornly refusing to turn my attention towards the thing that beckons. At other times it’s walking down the wrong path a bit and then recognizing that my current trajectory is inutile, so I gorge on some extremely unpalatable humble pie and make a U-turn.

Ultimately though, I’m learning to always return to my chosen path because only there do I find fulfillment, validation, and the comfort of accomplishing my greater purpose and calling.

In no uncertain terms then, I’m learning to; “Stay in my lane.”

So perhaps now that I’ve recognized this tendency I’ll be inclined to spend more time on my chosen path rather than follow after the shiny things that pose such a distraction. Heck, who knows, if I do that I might even accomplish significantly more in 2016 than I’ve done in 2015. Happy New Year from our house to yours!

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