Little by little...

Little by little...

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mired In The Status Quo

A few years ago, I was on my way to drop my son off to pre-school. It was a wintry morning, the snow was drifting and the country roads where I live were slick. I was unconcerned riding in our Jeep, but passed an unfortunate fellow in a ditch around a sharp curve. I knew the Jeep could pull him out and considered stopping, but had never attempted it before so I drove by. I told myself that if he were still there on my way home, I would offer assistance.
So on my journey home, I nervously approached the curve and lo and behold, he was still there. I put on my hazards, pulled off to the side of the road and cautiously approached the gentleman who was sizing up the situation.

He was un-impressed with my offer of assistance, but he had no other option in front of him. I’m sure his hesitation grew as he had to explain to me how to put the Jeep in low gear, but he patiently explained what I needed to do. I was on a sheet of ice, but after a few slippery attempts, his Camry popped right out of the ditch unscathed.
I was so excited - I wanted to hug him! I had accomplished something that I never thought I would have the chance to do. I managed to contain myself and, after some mutual thanks, we parted ways. I could not stop smiling. J

When I look around me, I see a lot of unsuspecting folks getting “stuck” in the ditches of life: the routines, the processes, the thinking patterns that hinder us from progress. The ruts we create for ourselves are unique, but share a common theme. We like the familiar so much that eventually a fear of change leaves us mired in the status quo.

People trudge through life every day, spinning their wheels, getting nowhere, but refusing to attempt a different approach. They eventually run out of gas and give up, abandoning their aspirations and settling for a life on the side of the road.

I admit that sometimes I want to drive by instead of offering to help because I feel ill equipped to assist them. What if I don’t have the knowledge or experience to help the situation? What if I make things worse for them or get myself dragged into a mess? What if I put myself out there and get rejected or look stupid?

Then I remind myself of the happiness that I felt when the man’s car came free from the snowy embankment. What a thrill to help someone by trying something I had never done before! Helping others is not always that exciting, but I did learn some valuable lessons that day:
       ·      Have the courage to speak up and try, even if it means possible embarrassment.
       ·      Be authentic. Admit what you don’t know so collaboration can occur.
       ·      Proceed cautiously and make adjustments as needed.
       ·      Enjoy and celebrate success!

Whether I’m talking to a friend, challenging the assumption of a coworker or working through an issue with a teammate, I try to remember that most people don’t even realize that they are in a rut. And whether through a gentle suggestion or a lively debate, sometimes we need a hand to pull us out. I know that I can’t pull everyone out of their drudgery, but I can aspire to help the person that is in my path today. 


  1. I thought you were going the other way with this.

    I thought the camry-driver was a metaphor for your rut of not doing something (pulling him out) because you never had before; it is almost the very definition of "stuck in a rut." Most people "stuck in a rut" are sticking to things they already feel confident doing instead of stretching in new directions.

    I congratulate both of you for getting free of your respective ruts.

    1. I had not considered that angle - man, I could have really gotten meta with it. :) Thanks for the comment!