Monday, October 30, 2023

When things are “murky”, use your “fog lights”



Many of you know that a few years ago (back in the summer of 2014) I bought an old car that I very affectionately named “Miss Kitty!”  I picked the car up near downtown LA, and my dear son Bryson and I drove her home, back to Atlanta, on a cross county multi-day road-trip that we still talk about today.  “Miss Kitty” is quite a character, with many unusual quirky features, but as you can see from the picture, she has some pronounced “fog lights” on her front grill. This essay is NOT a deep dive onto my old car’s unusual characteristics, but it was prompted by a recent experience I had driving on a foggy morning.


When driving in fog, I remember being taught in drivers-ed class to always use your car’s headlights, but to NEVER use the “high-beams!” If your car had “fog lights,” they were to be utilized in conjunction with your “low-beams” in conditions that were hazy, rainy, murky, or had limited visibility.  It was in just such a situation recently that I was heading to that the Atlanta airport, on a drizzly/foggy morning, when I realized that my old car’s “extra-large fog lights” were really needed to drive safely in the challenging conditions.  While those big yellow fog-lights did the job perfectly, it got me thinking about “murky/unclear” situations in life and in business that I was experiencing today.


How many times does your work environment lack clarity or appears hazy/unclear??   How many moments in your life do you face challenging situations and are uncertain of a clear path forward??  At least for me, these challenging situations happen all the time, and I for one often “turn on the high-beams” rather than the “fog lights” often to little avail!  Thinking about good old “Miss Kitty.” I realized that in those murky work/life moments, I needed to ditch the proverbial “high-beams.”  I didn’t need to add MORE intensity of introspection, MORE high analysis, MORE digging for clarity to make the matter clearer… instead I needed to SLOW DOWN and find/utilize the “fog lights” available to me. 


This imagery makes logical sense, and I am certain you understand the idea that I am trying to share… but I find the exercise very hard.  All my training and my 38+ years of a business career have been centered extensively on the “high-beam” curriculum!  How to accelerate your tempo, how much data can you connect with and how quicky can you do it?? I am literally writing this essay on a flight heading back to Bakersfield, and I am scheduling calls in 15-minute intervals for my layover in Phoenix…. more “high-beam” action!! 


As I look at my personal business landscape, I certainly see challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead.  Much more significantly, I look broadly at the political landscape domestically and internationally and see incredible challenges; illuminated today by the wars in Ukraine and Israel that are just two examples of tragic nightmares with no clear path forward in sight.  Now more than ever I am reaching for my “fog lights” to help navigate to road ahead, and I encourage all readers to be sure to keep them handy and in good working order… the path ahead does not look to be clearing any time soon and I think we will all need to use our “fog lights” regularly!


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