My sons are eagerly anticipating driver’s ed training. I look forward to this, too, because I remember how much I enjoyed learning to drive. I still enjoy driving very much and I think they will, too. Another reason I look forward to this is that I will be their instructor for the “classroom” portion of the training! I think we’ll have fun together as they learn the rules of the road. I’m sure they’ll also take opportunities to point out where I have not been following those rules!
Recently, one of the boys asked me a great question while we were on the road. It was dark. We were on the way home after enjoying a 4th of July fireworks show. We were traveling a winding, somewhat hilly, two-lane road. The question: “Dad, what do you look at when the bright lights of approaching cars shine in your eyes?” Great question!
Just then, another car came over a hill, in a bend in the road, and the lights shone right in my eyes—my son’s, too, because he was sitting right behind me. I told him, that I do NOT focus on the oncoming lights, but instead, I focus primarily on the white line at the right edge of my lane. This makes sure I am continuing safely on my proper path, and I occasionally glance at the other car to make sure it hasn’t veered off it’s path.
Experienced drivers know that if you focus on the oncoming headlights, two things happen: First, you get light-blinded and will have difficulty seeing anything well. Second, you tend to steer toward what you focus on. Both are potentially very dangerous and can cause an accident. As I explained all this to my son, the application to life and leadership was readily apparent to me.
We’ve all heard the metaphor that the life journey is like traveling a path. It is often a very narrow, winding, hilly path. Sometimes it is well lit, and other times it is quite dark. If we pay attention to the path we’re on, seeking guidance (directions) from wise people ahead of us on that path, we’re likely to travel the path safely and successfully. Sometimes things appear on the path that are dangerous. If we focus too much on the danger and not on the safe path, we can succumb to that danger.
That danger can take on many shapes and come from many sources. My observation in working with people is that what is dangerous to some is not to some others. What is dangerous to you and to me is closely tied to your own unique mix of strengths and weaknesses.
In the past I posted an article called The Destructive Strengths Paradox in which I explained that “Some of the most destructive forces in the workplace are people’s strengths that have not been consciously identified and, when uncontrolled, eventually damage relationships.” In other words, danger zones on the path of life occur when we do not understand how to properly and effectively use our own strengths.
So, returning to the analogy of driving a car down the road, there are a few lessons I would like you to see:
- When traveling a path, it is critical to not let dangers along the way distract you from your path. Stay focused on your goal. (Scriptures to help you with this include Philippians 4:8 and 2 Corinthians 10:5.)
- The dangers you are likely to encounter are often directly linked to the very core of your being. (See my previous article on this topic.)
- Seek wise counsel in navigating the path. (The life of David in the scriptures provides many examples: When he sought the Lord’s counsel he was blessed. When he did not … life was very rough for David and even deadly for those around him!)
It’s so easy to get distracted by the dangers in life. They are often shiny, glittering, and attractive. They pull our attention away from what is important. If we are able to maintain discipline, and stay on the path, we’ll soon see the danger pass by. When we do, we easily recognize it for what it really is. It wasn’t so shiny and attractive after all. We see a trail of destruction and trouble behind it.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.