In my campaigning for mediocrity post, I talked about how people put forth more effort towards being mediocre and holding themselves back than they do actually achieving their goals. I found that some people take it even a step further, justifying some of the most counter productive/destructive behaviors just for the sake of making other people wrong.
I remember my father teaching me a very important lesson about driving. He said “It’s good to be right, it does you no good to be dead right.” He made this comment explaining to me the importance of recognizing and managing other people’s ignorance for the sake of your well-being.
An illustration of this would be the seemingly “confusing” nature of a four-way stop. The law in most states dictates that when two or more people arrive at a 4-way stop simultaneously, the person to the right has the right-of-way to go first.
However, in our hasty world, (and due to raw and unadulterated ignorance) some people don’t adhere to this. What ends up happening is, the person who’s in the most hurry usually goes first.
Now, imagine you’re the person to the right and you know that you have the right of way. However, you notice the guy with the music playing loud or the woman blabbing on her cell phone is not paying attention and they decide to go.
You have one or two choices.
You could go anyway (knowing you have the right of way) and potentially have an accident or wait.
Because you had the right-of-way, you would not be penalized if an incident occurred…but now you have the frustration of having your car repaired, going to court, proving your innocence, etc.
Instead, you recognize (and manage) other people’s ignorance by allowing them to go first and crash into each other. This is an example of choosing not being “dead right”.
My father was telling me to never put your life in jeopardy for the sake of someone else’s ignorance.
Today, I ran across a scenario that, in my opinion, takes campaigning for mediocrity to a whole other level…almost just choosing to be stupid.
I was on the way home from a meting and I stopped by a gas station. I noticed a car stopped in the turning lane, next to the entrance to a 55 MPH highway. My initial thought was this person has to be having car trouble (because no one in their right minds would park in entrance lane to a highway…I ran over to help.
As I started getting closer to the car, I noticed they didn’t have the hazard lights on and saw an older gentleman in the car fidgeting around with something on the seat. So in order to not startle him, I approached from the front of the car, just kind of tapped on the hood, and I asked the guy was he okay? He said ‘Yes’ and was looking at me like I was crazy.
Initially, I was going to let it go, but I noticed that there was a young child in the back seat, so, I said to him, “It may not be safe for you to be parked right here, in the entrance lane to the highway.”
He looks at me and says “Well, I’m not bothering anyone, so the big deal? ….besides, people should be able to see me sitting here.”
I said “Well, yes, but you’re parked on a highway, and this may not be the safest place to park…”
So the gentleman looks at me, looks in is rear view mirror, then physically turns his body around and says “Well, they should be able to clearly see me and go around me.”
I stood there in amazement that someone would park their car in the street, (with no hazard lights on) and when someone considerate enough to attempt to help them in this situation, go to the point of almost making me wrong for trying to help out.
So, before I could get back to my car, I hear a horn blowing, and a crash.
In the 15 seconds that it took me to walk back to my car, someone sideswipes the guy, ripping off his driver’s side mirror.
I can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do. I can’t force my opinion on anyone else. But, things like this just push me to the point of just saying “screw it”.
He chose to be “dead right”. Instead of just moving to a safer place, he chose to argue with me about why he thinks it’s safe to park and gets his mirror ripped off. Thank goodness it was only the mirror…it could have been a lot worse.
As in the Campaigning For Mediocrity post, this is an opportunity for us to stop as ask, “What I’m I holding on (and fighting for) that isn’t serving me.
Choose to do something different.