I had not intended to do this! I had thought three entries about merging was enough! You may have thought the same thing! Thanks for your patience with me as I explore another aspect of the challenge of merging. There is just another message to share here!
Just like every day, I was commuting to work on the freeway today! I love to take the freeway near me! It allows me to live in my little rural community, but still be able to get to work in a reasonable time. I love the quick drive in and out of the city! So, I look to the speed limit, set the cruise control, and I am on my way.
Unlike most days, I was in the right-hand lane as I neared an on-ramp. There were cars with drivers who were also anxious to get on the expressway to work. This is not new, but I am normally in the left lane to allow them to get on. Today, I was not able to get over so I pressed on, cruise control in place.
Not unusual was the fact that I had to hit the brakes as cars merged into my lane. I will be honest here and say I do not like to have to do this. In fact, it frustrates me quite a bit to see merging cars heading on to the freeway as if there is no one there. Many drivers do not even appear to look and see if there is a car in the lane they are entering.
I want to shout, “Hey there! I am going 75 miles an hour here and you just casually drift into my lane without looking?” Even more, they are often going some 20-25 miles less than the speed limit! I am thinking to myself, “Do you not know how dangerous this is?” I believe in letting people in, so I slow down and let them in. It just works for me! Life is so much better for all of us when we let people in.
However, in thinking more about this, I feel there is more to this to explore. The driver in the lane merging on to the freeway has the responsibility of getting up to speed before the lane merges. The oncoming merge lane is typically longer to facilitate acceleration and smooth entry onto the desired road. So, if I am merging on to a highway with a speed limit of 65 mph, I am going to use the on-ramp to get as close to that speed as I can before I need to merge.
I completely get that in heavy traffic situations, modifications must be made. I will not cross the line as so many others do (Please see part 3 in this series), but I will adjust accordingly. So, if moving traffic is going 45 mph, then it is my job to get up that speed, find my space near the end of the merge lane, and slide right in. Match the speed of the traffic in the lane you are merging into is the rule. This makes traffic move so much better for all of us.
Life is also like this. Especially in relationships both personal and professional. We need to be up to speed on certain things. How about if we take this apart a little bit?
In the professional world, we often need to have (or are required to have) meetings. These meetings can be very helpful and often accelerate the work, communicate key goals and priorities, and build unity and teamwork. Meetings can be a very effective way to keep the work moving on at a good pace! Except when one or more people are not up to speed!
Have you ever been to a meeting where a topic was proposed in advance or an agenda was sent out ahead of time, but it was obvious some individuals did not even look at that agenda? So, the meeting gets held up by those who did not do what it takes to be up to speed. This drains time in meetings and slows progress. Occasionally, it hijacks the meeting and key priorities cannot be accomplished. Of course, we give a free pass every once in a while because life happens. However, the regular practice of not getting up to speed is harming our effectiveness in meetings.
Other examples of this in the professional setting could include group or committee projects. All to often, one or more people have done nothing to prepare for the group and they slow everyone else down! Maybe this is why so many of us hate group projects! We have all been there, right? There is always someone who comes to the coordination meeting having done nothing. Because one is not up to speed, we are all slowed down.
In more personal venues, we can see the same thing happening. How do we get up to speed in our families? In my work with couples and families, all too often we are not aware of what is going on in the lives of our family members. So, we are no up to speed on their lives.
Screens are often the culprit in the slow-down in families! When we spend too much time staring at a screen, we are distracted from what matters. I have witnessed relationships destroyed because someone was staring too much at a screen, oblivious to where they needed to be in their home and family life. Worse yet, I have seen entire families ruined because the individuals were not up to speed on each other’s lives because of too much time staring at a screen! I have said it before, “We will never end distracted driving until we end distracted living!”
We can also fail to be at proper speed when we over-schedule and get too busy! All too many of the families I work with are struggling with having so many things on the calendar, there is never time to connect. We may up to speed or even careening speeds in soccer, dance and piano class, Yoga classes, and Bunko games, and not be up to speed in what is happening to our daughter at school or our son on the playground. Ironically, here we may need to slow down in one area in order to be up to speed in the most important areas.
I could go on, but I think I have made my point! Perhaps, you can reflect on the relationships in your personal and professional life. You might ask yourself some of the following questions: Am I in any way slowing down the progress of others by my lack of preparation or by being too busy? Am I routinely missing out or showing up late for important events, meetings, activities, and get-togethers? Do I feel constantly rushed and unprepared?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may just be heading up the entrances lanes of life not up to speed and therefore negatively affecting others around you! Pay attention and make a change!
So, the next time you are merging into my lane (or anyone else’s for that matter!), make sure you do the personal work you can do to be up to speed! It will help us all progress faster!