When we come to an intersection – from busy city traffic or quiet country lane crossroads – we approach, by car or on foot, with caution.
We are alert, we look both ways, then we look both ways again – and we proceed if safe. We were taught this as toddlers. It does not vary; the cause for concern is the same, regardless the noise of traffic volume.
Add one ingredient – traffic signs or lights, usually a signal that risk is higher – and we get more relaxed, more comfortable, because we believe others will observe the same traffic signs or lights, will stop or yield or go according to protocols, signals, and safety procedures. We are alert, we look both ways, then we look both ways again – and we proceed if safe, but we rely on those signs and signals more and our recollection of the concern for safety taught to us as toddlers.
These traffic lessons are ubiquitous. Every country, every language, every culture, teaches toddlers to cross roads safely, teaches them to look both ways twice before moving forward.
We so quickly learned this about traffic, so you might think this is a transferable skill – in terms of dealing with people when we intersect them, in terms of business, in terms of the internet, in terms of every interaction we have with the world where risks to our person, our mind, and our wallet are at stake, we are not collectively strong, vigilant, or careful. The risk of being run over is high; the risk of being flattened physically, emotionally, and financially is enormous.
What can we do?
Be careful in traffic.
Be careful at intersections.
Stop, look, and listen before you go ahead.
Every time, every intersection.
This is not, however, an essay of traffic light training or street crossing. I am talking about lifestyle choices we make as individuals and families and corporate lifestyle choices we make as businesses.
And, admittedly, some of my thinking revolves around this self-talk, “if I had it all to do over, what would I do differently?”
That breaks into two streams of thought. Yes, and no.
The case for YES
Most of us would, I expect, be convinced that all of our decisions were well thought out ones based on sound planning. Statistics for divorce and business failure would suggest that is not correct. However, people are always convincing themselves they made the right decisions when outsiders looking in shake their heads in dismay.
I believe this is ‘attachment to our decisions’ even when evidence proves we are wrong. This is why people keep trying – a combination of convincing themselves they made the right choices (denial), and a belief (hope) things will change. They rarely do, rarely change enough, to save the venture, or the relationship.
The case for NO
Recognizing we made a mistake, changing direction, starting anew – requires more than abandonment of an old or bad idea, it requires a mindset shift to something new which is rooted in better planning, better choice-making, and even then the chance of breaking free to a ‘new way of doing things’ is intuitively tricky.
Change the process, or change the decision-maker? In the case of business ventures, that happens all the time – a new CEO does a clean sweep, installs new hires, reorganizes processes, and tries to change the culture. Changing culture in any organization is difficult, and changing the ‘decision making culture’ within our minds, harder still.
If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou
Every human has four endowments – self-awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change. – John F. Kennedy
If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.– Stephen Covey
Oh, bother what to do?
I cannot be content staying on a path that is safe and routine. But why? Is it because change will produce a better result, a happier me, or do marvelous things? I wonder if I cannot have all three!
I was giving feedback to someone the other day – it was good feedback, and the person to whom I gave that unsolicited advice was grateful, gracious, and kind. I wondered, at that moment, I had a breakthrough somehow. Not sure if I got better there and then, in that moment (was I being an editor, an audience helper, or a friend?), or plainly recognized I am good at something which I’ve been ignoring.
More thought is required, different (perhaps better) decisions are imminent.
Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated around the same time of year here in Mexico and may go as far back as 3000 years. The Spanish found the locals celebrating this festival when they got here in the 16th century and of course deemed it pagan and sacreligious... Out little village here is gearing up for a three or four day party complete with cemetery visits to clean the tombs and sit up at night complete with picnic baskets beer and mescal to visit with and remember their dead. That’s the deeper meaning behind the festival, DM, Puerto Angel, Oaxaca, Mex.
Don’t know if its true, or relevant in this case, but I’ve read that even Wikipedia can’t always be trusted any more, LH, Lethbridge, AB