Imagine if we chose to own our part of every conversation we have?
While the term ‘stay in your lane’ is not new, it first became known and real to me when I was a participant in a program called ‘Insight’ run by Bev McInnes. Insight was a program aimed at understanding how our thinking and behaviours are affected by what has happened to us during our lives.
One of the premises of the program was the need for us to focus on how our experiences affected us personally. Not how they changed our brothers, sisters, parents/carers or those around us.
It wasn’t about trying to analyse why the person who affected us did what they did. It wasn’t about having ‘a-ha’ moments about the experiences that led to our partner or children seeing things the way they see them. We needed to stay in our own lane: to mind our own business and steer our own traffic, not veer into other people’s lanes and steer theirs.
People often veer out of their lanes. A common example; you might be reading an article and come across a section that has practically highlighted itself red and that applies directly to your manager. You can’t wait to give it to them so they can own it.
This is not minding your own business. This is not staying in your own lane. What is the learning for you in there?
Good friends of mine, Chris and Lynne Burgess, have five adult children and have been married for over 35 years. Lynne is the author of ‘All in Night’, which focused on how to bring up a values based family. According to Lynne, marriage has not been easy. In her book Lynne says that one of the turning points in their marriage was when they moved from ‘blame’, and the ‘it’s you that needs to change’ mentality, to working on themselves.
She and Chris focused on owning their reactions to each other, and on staying in their own lanes. Yes, marriage and relationships are still a challenge for everyone, but their secret has been inspiring to me and to many others. ‘A healthy, lasting relationship can only be built between two people who choose one another every day and take full responsibility for that.’
When you’re in a conversation with another person and you can feel your fight-or-flight stress reactions rising, maturity says ‘Okay. I am reacting here. What can I own?’. Then once you’ve done this, you can shift your focus on the other person and their impact. I’m not saying others don’t have their stuff and that it’s not relevant. What I’m saying is, if you wish to maintain a connection with others then look at managing yourself first, and only then, focus on the others.
Offence, disappointment, resentment and blame are emotions that all leaders (of people, ideas and concepts) need to deal with to become remarkable.
Staying in your lane is about owning the learning or the change that you need to own. It’s about climbing out of the blame trap, where you believe that everybody else needs to work on their stuff.
If you want to be the change you want to see … then be it. Own it. Shift the burden to yourself. Otherwise you stay trapped and nothing moves forward. After all, the only person you can control in a relationship or conversation…. Is you!
For more information on how to ‘own your stuff’ and how to ‘climb out of the thinking trap’ grab a copy of “Fixing Feedback”.