|Additionally, “stay in your lane” is often used as an attack on someone’s efforts to express an opinion or to improve themselves. Doctors who spoke out in favor of gun control were told by the NRA to “stay in your lane.” In other words, don’t express an opinion on something you are not an expert in. The doctors who had treated many gun wounds, answered back with hashtag #ThisIsOurLane.
We use this expression for many different purposes. Let’s look at a few.
PRINCIPLE: Do not get distracted.
Remember, it’s you versus you. The moment you start focusing on things you cannot control, is the moment you get distracted from your goal.
There’s a well known account from the 2016 Olympics when Chad LaClos was favored to win the gold in the butterfly ever so slightly over Michael Phelps. Both swimmers were at the top of the swimming world and fiercely competitive with each other. During the race LeClos was photographed several times glancing over at Phelps. Each turn of the head cost him time. Not only did he not win, but he didn’t even medal, finishing in 4th place. He said it was the worst race of his life.
In business, it’s a good idea to know what the competition is doing. However, as with all things, evaluating the competition must be done with strategic moderation. Spending too much time worrying about what the other guy is doing can have some seriously deleterious effects.
I like this business aphorism: “When you are minding someone else’s business, who’s minding yours.” Don’t get distracted from accomplishing your goals and finding your abundance.
PRINCIPLE: Don’t evaluate yourself based on others’ accomplishments.
Comparing yourself to others can be the start of failure. It can cause you to lose your focus, to lose your confidence, and to lose your creativity.
Of course this is different from learning from others. What is your competition doing well? What principles are they applying successfully? What mistakes have they made that you can avoid?
In competitive athletics, watching film of the competition is a proven technique for being able to come out on top. Major league hitters and pitchers study opposing pitchers and hitters. Not so they can say, “They’re so good, I’ll never be able to get a hit off this guy or strike this guy out.” They are looking for flaws they can take advantage of.
And, pitchers study other pitchers, and hitters study other hitters, to see where they can improve. A pitcher doesn’t study a hitter so that he can change lanes and become a hitter. The pitcher has the goal of being the best pitcher he can be. He stays in his lane, focused on his craft.
The story of New Coke is a cautionary tale. In 1985 Coca-Cola changed its formula because a blind taste test survey indicated that people preferred the more sugary taste of Pepsi. Within just a couple of months, due to public outcry, they had to reintroduce the original recipe as Coke Classic. Their knee-jerk reaction, based on a comparison with Pepsi, caused them to change lanes, and it was a disaster.
PRINCIPLE: Concentrate on your zone of genius.
You have an area of brilliance; that’s what got you where you are. Hone in on the things that you do better than anyone else. Create something unlike what anyone else has to offer. It’s in your lane that you shine, not in somebody else’s.
Over the years, I have on occasion tried to pattern myself after one of my competitors whom I thought at the time must have that elusive secret to success. In every case, I was wrong, and it usually cost me money. There was no secret. They were each succeeding in their zones of genius: sales, social media marketing, networking, copywriting, product, service. What I did learn was that I have zones of genius that are mine and that when I concentrate on my best attributes, talents, and gifts, I am happy and successful.
Adapt, innovate, or die. You may have heard that truth. But it does not necessarily suggest that you need to change to a different lane. Blockbuster didn’t have to get out of the movie business, as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime have proven. Innovation is usually taking what you have done well and doing it in a fresh new way — not the way someone else is doing it.
PRINCIPLE: Sometimes it is necessary and beneficial to change lanes.
There are plenty of good reasons to stay in your lane.
But when is it beneficial to change lanes?
If you know a change is necessary, here are some principles to consider before making the lane change (note the driving lane change metaphors):
- Be strategic: Why do you think that a change would benefit you? What evidence is there to support the change? Of all the ways you could change, why this one?
- Be aware of your blind spots: Is there something you are missing? Have you done your research? Are there hidden dangers? Are you over or underestimating your capabilities?
- Be aware of the space around you: Is there a margin for error? Is there someone else who is already in that lane? Are you likely to be moving too fast or too slow? Is there actually an efficacious gap that you could fill?
- Signal first: Who needs to be informed that you are changing lanes? How long before the change do you need to inform them? What is the best way to indicate that a change is coming?
To say the least, I’m duly impressed by the mind-blowing enormity of the “lane-changing strategy” that I’ve discovered in my research. For example, if a runner and coach must internalize the math, physics, and strategy illustrated in this ARTICLE, how much more must you pay attention to “lane shifts” in your professional and personal dealings.
Whether you need to stay in your lane or make a lane change, the magnitude of the implications must not be underestimated.
When you are ready to create your abundant life, it’s time to ask and answer:
What do you actually, truly want?
Where are you lacking abundance?
Where are you taking joy in abundance?
However we define it, we all want an abundant life. The truth is that abundance is within reach for all of us. That’s what motivates me as a strategist: helping people reach new levels of abundance, however they define it.
Message me for more information on the ways you can work with me to achieve ever higher levels of performance and abundance in your life.
To Your Abundance,
P.S. When you’re ready, below are some ways you can work with me to achieve ever higher levels of abundance. Please complete this Application to request an Initial Abundance Strategy Session
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