When I worked for corporations I recognized there were workers and leaders. Both are needed to keep the cogs turning in a business. Everyone needs to work and pull their weight, only some are in the trenches all the time doing that, while others are in the trenches occasionally and out of the trenches other times so they can keep a broader perspective, and make decisions for the business.
I see the same tendency in personal lives, where some people keep their heads down and do what they are told, and some people strive for a broader perspective and decision making. I see the difference here as some people are the passengers in their lives, and others are the drivers.
Being a passenger means you get to kick back and pay attention to the surroundings, nap, read, and do any number of things. You don’t have to focus on the road or make decisions. Once in awhile, you may be called on to help navigate, but that job isn’t very demanding anymore because of navigation systems. That may be great when you are on a trip. Is it a “good” way to live your life, though?
Being the driver means you pay attention to what’s going on along your path and some of the surroundings. It requires you to stay alert, make decisions, and instigate course corrections. You are in complete charge of your destination. What a great way to take a trip. Is it a “good” way to live your life, though?
I’ve been into directing my own destiny as long as I can remember. I’m finding there are ways of improving my “driving” skills, ways that make the drive that much more enjoyable and the journey that much more exciting. I have found, for myself, that when I’m passenger, I eventually fall asleep and miss so much of the scenery and the journey. I don’t like missing out, so driving is the answer for me.
Through observation of the world I see that when people avoid taking responsibility, they tend to live in fear and denial. You can’t grow when you live your life that way. The easy path keeps you from being tested, and that keeps you from growing. A stunted life doesn’t seem like a life worth living, to me.
People who are passengers in their lives also tend to not be present. That seems like an oxymoron. I said they get to observe their surroundings as they go through life, but the reality is they often don’t stay present, so they miss what’s going on in their immediate surroundings. It’s like being in a fog where you can’t see or experience your life. When you aren’t present you miss the little joys, and sometimes the big joys too. What a shame.
On the other hand, the drivers in the world stretch outside their comfort zone and grow. They go for the gusto at work and play and experience great rewards. Drivers stay present. That’s how they reach their destination — their goals. Being present lets them experience their journey. There can be fear in reaching for new things and risk in stretching. That fear and risk are part of healthy growth.
Driver or Passenger? Your choice. Your life. That said, let me urge you to adopt the Driver attitude, at least most of the time. Be present to know where you are and where you want to be, then choose the experiences that will help you grow and reach your destination.