In a moment of insanity, I agreed to go to the factory outlet mall with my wife, Cathy, on a Sunday afternoon. The reason? 1. It was raining, 2. We had been in the house for 2 days, 3. I did need some new casual dress shoes, 4. The NCAA college baseball regional that I was watching was on my ESPN app (LOVE IT), and 5. I knew she would love it (yes, this one should be higher on the list).
So we spent two hours together with ESPN tagging along and had as much fun as I could hope for while shopping. Shopping is not a passion that we share. But we were finally leaving—granted at a speed which was probably unsafe because I did not want to chance seeing another store that might have “the right cute shorts.” As we pulled onto the highway, traffic was pretty heavy. There are two left turn lanes and I remained in the second one because immediately after taking the left at this light, you must very quickly merge right to get on the interstate ramp. As I pulled into the lane, I realized how long this line of cars was. There must have been 15 vehicles in front of us, so I glanced to my left to see what was in the first lane and it only had one car!
I realized then that the “herd mentality” had all of us afraid of missing the turn ahead so we were stacked one behind the other for safety. The risk of being in the first lane is that you may not find an opening to merge right quickly enough to make the on-ramp for the interstate. But at this point, I was also thinking about the risk of missing the next baseball game, so I pulled out of my lane and pulled up to the front of the first lane.
I decided it was better to take the risk of turning sooner and certainly at the first green light rather than risk being caught by another red light in the long line of risk-adverse drivers. Okay, we all know to be safe when driving but please stay with me as this was not reckless driving (also, please do not contact my wife about this blog). It was taking a risk that we could skillfully navigate two quick lane changes as we proceeded through the light. Due to the incredible skills of our driver, we quickly found an opening and successfully merged onto the interstate ramp and made a successful trip home.
Today, many of us are sitting in the second turn lane waiting through several lights to follow someone else up the on-ramp. We are risk adverse because we don’t know what opportunities we will have in that first lane where things will move faster. We feel more comfortable simply following the pack who might miss the start of the ballgame because to pull into the first lane will require we use our best skills to be successful. The first lane also raises our stress level as we may experience an unexpected challenge with our turn.
Today, with disruption quickly changing our business, we can’t afford to miss a light or two. Missing the start of the game will be expensive in clients, people and missed opportunities. Let’s be aware when we are waiting to see what everyone else is doing. Waiting is a decision, status quo is a decision. They are both riskier than in our past. The herd mentality will block us from too many opportunities today. So let’s pull into lane one, take that turn sooner and merge onto the interstate of opportunity.