A while back I was scheduled to speak in Kingman, Arizona, which is about one hundred miles from the nearest major airport located in Las Vegas, Nevada. So I flew into Las Vegas and drove to Kingman. I had a great time with a wonderful organization and fantastic people. When the meeting was over, I drove back to Las Vegas late that evening in order to catch an early morning flight back to Atlanta. My hotel was right next to the airport, so I knew I would have no trouble making my early flight on time.
While driving between the two cities, I was able to see some interesting sights. One of the tallest bridges in the world has just been built between those two cities. It is quite impressive! However, the construction of the bridge has made it necessary to do a lot of other road construction in that area. The road I was traveling on was a four-lane highway with two lanes going in each direction. Sections of it were littered with blinking lights and orange barrels which were set up to help cars navigate the lane changes that were necessary due to the construction in the area.
Being out in that barren and sometimes desolate area, I was amazed at how big and bright the night sky was and how brilliantly the stars were shining. As I drove along, I was surprised to see that in the distance some headlights were coming towards me – in my lane! I thought to myself, “What in the world is that vehicle doing?” I flashed my lights to get their attention and warn them that they were in my lane. Although the car was still far ahead of me in the distance, I could clearly tell it was in my lane and coming towards me at a high rate of speed.
When I looked more closely to see how it was possible that the vehicle coming towards me could have gotten over onto my side of the highway, a very sick feeling sank into my stomach. I realized that they were not in my lane – I was in their lane! Because of all the road construction, the lanes occasionally merged, going from four lanes down to two. Somehow in the middle of all that, I ended up going the right direction in the wrong lane. I honestly do not know where the highway lanes had changed.
I quickly pulled my car over to the right-hand side of the road and in a few seconds the oncoming car passed me safely in their lane. Now, I don’t want to be overly dramatic – there was never a moment that we were that close to having a head-on collision, but it still made me feel sick to realize that there COULD have been a head-on collision if I had not considered the fact that they were not in the wrong lane after all. It was me!
I immediately said a prayer and thanked God for watching over me in spite of my ignorance. Although I knew the road was under construction, and I knew I was paying attention to what I was doing, I still somehow ended up in the wrong lane.
That incident caused me to wonder how many times a similar thing has happened to all of us – we thought we were moving ahead in life, going in the right direction, doing exactly what we believed was correct and best for us, but then we suddenly realized that what we were doing really wasn’t that wise after all. It is then that a sick feeling hits us in the pit of our stomach and we wake up to the fact that we had better make a course correction or there could be some serious consequences.
It is so easy to blame others, isn’t it? We learn that defense mechanism at a very young age. I have observed this phenomenon taking place as I watched my grandchildren at play with their friends. It is interesting to see how quickly all children (and many adults) are prone to blame someone else when something goes wrong. No one wants to get caught being wrong. No one wants to admit that they are the problem. It is much easier to complain and blame than it is to stop and ask ourselves the question, “Is it me?” The walls of denial must come down in order for that question to be asked. It is not an easy challenge to face.
Perhaps you have heard the illustration that when you point a finger at someone else, you need to look at your hand because three fingers are pointing right back to yourself. Although that may be a simple little illustration, it does bear a lot of truth.
Needless to say, I was grateful to get back to Las Vegas alive and to fly home safely the next morning. Again, I do not think I was ever in grave danger, but if I had not had that “ah-ha moment” when I realized that I was the one in the wrong lane, it could have ended in a serious tragedy. The truly amazing thing to me is that my first response in the entire situation was to think that the other driver was the one in the wrong lane!
As I flew home that next morning, I decided that from now on, in any situation, I would simply begin by looking at my own actions and behavior first. I would ask myself, “What is it that I could do differently or better?” I would also ask, “Even though it may not be my problem, what have I done to cause the problem continue without any change?” By asking myself those questions, I have begun to more quickly awaken to my own errors. I believe it is helping me to be better, personally and professionally.
This week, stop to consider the alternative to staying on the path you are now traveling. It could be disastrous unless you are willing to make a change. I am confident your eyes will be opened and you will get in the right lane!
Tip: Maybe it’s me!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm