I was stuck in traffic. In 20 minutes, my car had moved barely 5 feet – and I was getting frustrated.
Curious to see how others were reacting, I looked around.
To my surprise, most of the younger drivers around me didn’t seem bothered by the situation. They each coped with it in different ways. But none were restless, fidgety or annoyed – like I was.
“How could that be?” I wondered.
And that’s when I had this epiphany.
Your Frame of Reference
My marketing mentor Jay Abraham is fond of saying, “What you know is what you know.”
He’s a specialist at getting businesses to multiply their profitability by tapping into overlooked assets and leveraging them better. His methods aren’t complicated, yet he says people don’t easily adopt them… because they don’t know how powerful they can be.
Being stuck in a paradigm of “business as usual”, they don’t see a different frame of reference, or consider how much more is possible.
Let’s apply that principle to those trapped inside vehicles, motionless on the overcrowded main road that evening.
The Way It Has Always Been…
I’ve lived in this city for over 40 years.
I remember a time when the roads were practically empty. When you could drive without stopping more than once or twice in 10 minutes. When you could safely speed to 50 or 60 kmph. When you could drive while thinking about something else and not worry about hitting someone, or being hit by them.
Even 20 years ago, I’d drive to work and reach the hospital 8 kilometers away in less than twenty minutes. In fact, while returning in the afternoon, the trip could be done in just 11 minutes! (Today, it’s a good day when it takes less than 45 minutes!)
So my frame of reference is a period when one got into a car and just drove, getting from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time.
And over the years, I’ve watched helplessly as the commute grew slower, longer, and frustratingly painful.
But drivers who knew the city more recently have a different reference frame.
My daughter isn’t fazed at how slowly traffic moves in the city. In fact, she’s often surprised and/or amused by my reaction… and tells me to shut up and stop whinging.
Because right from when she’s been travelling around the city, things have always been this way.
- Getting stuck in traffic is what she’s used to.
- Driving slowly, in fits and starts, is her ‘normal’.
- Being limited to a maximum safe speed of 40 kmph doesn’t seem restrictive.
Because it’s all she knows – and has ever known!
The Glass Ceiling
There’s a bigger message hidden within this reality.
We’re all victims of our expectations.
And prisoners of our concept of reality.
Unless we’re able to break through the shackles to imagine a different world, we’re condemned to living beneath that glass ceiling of our comfort zones.
What we know may be all that we know.
But still, we can yearn for more.
And chase that dream… if only we dare.
P.S. – If you think this blog post is too long, you should see my book. It is far worse.