So, most of us have heard the expression, “There are 2 seasons – winter and construction!” For those of us that live in the northern United States where the winters can be long, cold and snowy, we know this all too well. So why am I writing about construction? Well, actually, I’m writing about road construction. It’s a story of reframing your perspective.
It’s exciting when you take a road trip to visit relatives, national monuments or just to get away from your normal, everyday life. Then, on your way you hit…road construction!
I think I just heard many of you let out a sigh.
We all experience that exasperation when you’re eager to get somewhere and you get held up or slowed down by not one but many incidences of road construction. Like many of you, I am a driver that gets more than a bit anxious, annoyed and put out when I am held up in construction traffic.
However, recently my 12 year old provided me a great reframe for the hidden opportunity so many of us frustrated drivers are passing up (pun intended…). It came in a very gentle and joyful way. So true to her joyous and open heart, she illustrated a new way of “doing road construction.”
We were driving on one of only two 2 small roads that cross our town of 50,000. The roads when not under construction are a local route for those avoiding the stopped traffic on the byway. Well, this road has been under construction for over a year now and drivers experience continual delays. I took this route in hopes of saving some time by avoiding, well you guessed it – traffic.
Lessons From a 12-Year-Old
I was a bit hesitant but my daughter assured me that the route was open because her school bus has recently driven the road. But, wouldn’t you know it! That dreaded, “prepare to stop” sign appeared as I crested the hill. As I was winding up my anxiety, she got all excited and opened the car window. I was about to ask her to close it, when she said, “I want to say ‘HI’ to all the people working.” She proceeded to smile, wave and great each one as we passed slowly by.
After we cleared the construction area and she closed the car window, she was gleeful and appreciative. Several of the workers waved back, saying “HI” and smiling in return. She considered the experience a win and a had fun time. She even commented on the few workers who didn’t seem to like their jobs very much and mentioned how they might consider changing jobs.
Reframing Your Perspective
What a fresh perspective. I think all of us who are “jaded road construction drivers” can learn a lot from her. What we previously considered to be a roadblock, a slow down or interruption to our best laid plans, she saw it as an opportunity to bring joy, smiles and fun to an otherwise typical day for us and for all of the workers that day.
When you face your next “road construction” and your path to your best laid plan runs into an unexpected hitch, just think about how you can bring joy, fun and laughter to yourself, those around you and anyone else lucky enough to encounter you.
Mary Meston is a Certified High Performance Coach™. Her current practice leverages 25 years of experience in business, organizational change and the psychology of personal growth and development.