What My Father Told Me

One day when I was a pre-teen heading home from Rockaway Beach, I accepted a ride with a friend of a friend, a teen driver. This was a risk because my parents had warned me never to get into a car with a driver I didn’t know. I trusted my friend, so I got in.

The driver, about 18 years old, was wise for her age, I thought. I was impressed with how rapidly and often she moved her right foot back and forth over the gas and brake pedals as she maneuvered through heavy traffic.

At supper that night I told my parents about the driver’s quick-footed movement. My father’s eyes quickly met my mother’s. Not a good sign. He said if the driver kept moving her foot back and forth it meant she was indecisive about the action to take. That was not what a good driver does. In fact, he said, it was dangerous because when she had to make a quick decision, her foot might be over the wrong pedal. In an instant she could be in an accident. He projected my thinking into the future saying when I got my license I would be more focused and would know whether to accelerate or brake based on my awareness of the situation.

Years later when my father taught me to drive, his mantra was: “Anticipate. Anticipate. Anticipate.” He said: “Always be aware of the car in front of you, and two or three cars in front of it. And watch the cars in the next lane, too.” That way I’d be prepared to make the right decision if something started to happen. His words made me the safe driver I am today.

Over the years, I realized his sage advice was more than just about driving. He wanted me to always look beyond my immediate situation, not just straight ahead. Anticipate possibilities. Ask questions. Think strategically. Be prepared in all I do. His wisdom helped form my thinking about risk taking. And has become a core element in my coaching with Quiet Leaders. We talk about what is possible, what risks are involved, what to do to mitigate those risks, and more. I love it when their thoughts evolve and energize them into action.

If you would like to broaden your thinking about a risk you are facing, or want to pursue, let me know. I will be glad to help you anticipate, anticipate, anticipate.

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