Traffic circles, once very rare in Calgary, are gaining in numbers, and drivers are gaining in confidence navigating them. One of the key rules of traffic circles is the drivers on the inside lane have right of way. Once you get this sorted out, it makes the inner lane one of power. Driving in this lane, a driver simply needs to signal their intent and they have the authority to exit the circle whenever they wish.
At first this is a bit nerve wracking. It seems counterintuitive. It can feel as though there is a lot going on around you, and having the courage to signal and make a move takes confidence. With a bit of practice, exiting becomes easy; no circling around and around is required.
This past week, Joseph R. Biden Jr., became the 46th President of the United States. In a ground breaking moment, Kamala Devi Harris, became the first woman, Black American, and South Asian American to be elected Vice President. I’m guessing this team of Biden and Harris, has an established inner circle. The people in this circle will have been carefully chosen. After all, they will help make the decisions affecting the entire nation.
Every leader, those leading countries, businesses, schools, hospitals, corporations, non-profits, interest groups, political parties and families, have an inner circle. These are powerful circles in which to travel. People who are part of such circles recognize the power they have been given. They understand they can signal and make moves at will. Good leaders understand this is made possible by all of the other participants; those in the outer circle who yield right of way to these decision-makers.
Not all of us get to be in the inner circle of government. Most of us are quite content not to drive here. The same goes for businesses, hospitals, schools, corporations, interest groups, non-profits and political parties. The vast majority of us drive around the traffic circles of these organizations in the outside lanes. We’re happy to watch others set directions while we follow safely behind. When they signal a new direction to us, we let them have right of way, and we make the necessary adjustments.
Although we may not be in the inner circles of these establishments, we do all reside in one very critical inner circle; the inner circle of our own lives. We hold tremendous power in that position. We can make up our own minds about our actions, our beliefs, our interests, our hobbies, our careers, our values, and our ways of interacting with others.
We need people close to us in our inner circle as we live our lives and make decisions. We need people we can trust with our ideas, with our concerns and our self-doubts. We need people who will listen to our dreams and champion us. We need people who can accept us at our best, and our worst. If we are wise, we will also be aware of, and include the others who drive just beyond our lane, in the outside lanes; they too have valuable insights and contributions that can enrich our lives. In the end though, while we have other people in the inner lane with us, we drive our own car by ourselves.
We are responsible for the choices we make. We are responsible for our actions. We are responsible for the impact we have on our world. We also have the power to notice interesting exits off our circle. We can choose to boldly signal and follow those paths whenever we wish. We can also circle around and around, while others enter and exit our circle, never making a brave move on our own.
I’ve been noticing my own driving lately. I want to be aware when I’m being brave enough to make decisions best for me; being brave enough to signal my intent and to follow my idea. I also want to be aware of when I’m simply going ‘round and ‘round, almost living on autopilot.
When Ben and I are driving around the traffic circle and we see an open door, we know there is a chance a truck will turn on it’s emergency lights and enter our circle. I know too, from time to time as I’m driving around my circle of life, the fire station doors may open and a siren blasting, light-flashing truck will enter my inner circle. Sometimes it signifies a thrilling opportunity for me, and like Ben, I welcome the sight with wonder. Other times my heart pounds as I navigate the emergency I face. Either way I adjust my speed and direction temporarily. Amazingly, but predictably, the loud fire truck eventually signals and leaves my lane; the crisis passes, and I once again find myself comfortably navigating my inner lane.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What lane am I in?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how navigate traffic circles.