Getting Ahead, But at What Cost?
The other day I was stuck in traffic. No surprise, because I was traveling in the San Francisco Bay area during rush hour. The traffic was crawling along at 15 miles an hour, and it was expected to be at that pace for the next 30 minutes as we inched towards a big intersection.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a big truck trying to get a few cars ahead in a merging lane. He was swerving around to see if he could make it in front of another merging driver. And, he did.
Since there was not much going on, (and my car has a form of auto-pilot so I can be a little less focused on the vehicle directly in front of me at slow speeds) I watched the driver of the big truck continue to make progress against the traffic jam.
After about 20 minutes, he was four cars ahead of me. He spent a lot of effort for that 50-foot advantage. It caused me to think about the cost of ‘getting ahead.’ That train of thinking led me to wonder if that analogy applied to ‘getting ahead’ in life.
How often do we put in extra work to try to make sure things work out to meet our expectations, only to realize when we look back, that we ended up pretty much where we would have if we had just chilled?
We have learned it’s essential to focus on the “what” and less on the “how” in life.
This is a difficult concept for people who want to know the details of how things are going to work because they are more comfortable focusing on the steps and get distracted from the big picture and what they want to achieve.
It isn’t the amount of work you put in that makes it happen; it’s the amount of clarity and emotional intensity that makes the difference. Without it, all the effort won’t bring you closer to what you want.
The next time you think about doing the extra work, ask yourself how clear are you about what you want. Then, if the extra work feels aligned, go for it; otherwise, you may be putting in extra work for nothing.
Sometimes that extra 50-feet is important, but often it’s not worth the cost.