Sometimes the workforce turns us into animated objects so hell-bent on reaching our individual goals that a fatal collision is unavoidable. It took me many years of working in the corporate environment to realize how very similar we people are to the cars in my morning commute. How similar you may ask? Damn similar.
Let us observe the similarities between people at work and the morning drive.
The “Good” Driver
If the job was a highway filled with vehicles then the people who work there are the cars. Most workers are standard, they come in when they are supposed to (mostly a little late), and they leave when their shift is up (mostly a little early). Every year they look for a raise and to get them to leave their position is like pulling teeth. These are the cars that travel at speed limit.
The Ambitious Driver
The cars that annoy people by bobbing and weaving into traffic, not really getting much farther ahead, but trying their damnedest to do so is cluelessly ambitious at a job. You know these people. When history shows that your job has no vertical advancement—unless it’s the owner’s family member—and there are no hard metrics to track hard work, they will continue to grind even though it is shrugged off by their manager. Oftentimes we wonder why these hard workers don’t look for a better job that will appreciate their hard work, but here they are staying late, grinding hard, and brown-nosing the boss with little to no reward for their work.
The Sunday Driver
Then you have the people who lack ambition, lack the drive to really excel at their job, and are little more than furniture pieces in the office. Your boss can’t fire them because they don’t do enough bad to warrant firing, but they stink up the office with gossip, entitlement, and a willingness to snitch on anyone who steps out of bounds. These office mainstays are the cars that hang out in the fast lane driving at 5-10 MPH below the speed limit. Normally these people or cars get in the way of the ambitious, speeding driver and if this person happens to be their boss – just like a slow car that has you boxed in, that ambitious car will never get anywhere.
The Fast, Strategic Driver
What I learned from equating traffic to work is that there is one particular driver and worker that manages to forge ahead in the pack. The driver that reads the cars ahead and behind him/her studies their patterns and switches lanes when the opportunity presents itself is the one that gains momentum over the others. Unlike the lane-switching driver who does so out of gambling and being reactionary, this driver will know when to cut off a car that only occupies space, and if the road is not worth driving he/she will take a detour.
Looking at the way we drive, and the frustration that a crazy lane-switcher brings—just like his under-accelerating brother—you should aim to work and drive strategically instead of being reactive or lazy. If you find that you have been at a job for too long without the proper title and pay, you may want to check your pace to see if you’re on cruise control or changing lanes erratically.
When you take it all into perspective, like driving, you can change your style, and applying a little strategy to your navigation could mean a faster arrival to your destination than you think.