Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Lessons from the Pothole

Driving to work the other day I hit a pothole and, like most people, I reacted angrily. “Why can’t they do something about this?” I mumbled under my breathe. But this time instead of complaining I thought maybe I could learn a lesson or two from the pothole.  Here’s what I learned:

Pothole Lesson #1 - There will always be potholes.

It seems like every city that I’ve lived in has had potholes. They’re everywhere. In fact, if you find a city without potholes move quickly because they soon will have some. Do you, like me, expect life to be all smooth sailing? That’s a nice thought but it’s just not going to happen. There will be potholes in life. Some of my own making. Some the making of others. And some just because we live in an imperfect world. Maybe I need to just make sure that I don’t overreact to these inevitable potholes in life. Sometimes I can let something annoying ruin my entire day and the day of everyone around me. It’s not that potholes are enjoyable, but I shouldn’t let them have the power over me that I allow them to have. Sometimes I just need to hit that pothole and move on.

Pothole Lesson #2 - Learn from your mistakes.

There is one route I take to work where I kept hitting the same pothole. Then one day I realized that if I just swerved a little to the left I could avoid it. Hitting potholes may be inevitable but hitting the same pothole day after day is not. I needed to learn from my mistakes. Have you ever heard this definition of insanity – “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Instead of just complaining I need to learn how to avoid potholes in the future.  This is especially important when I am the cause of the pothole.  I need to ask myself how I contributed to the problem and what actions I need to take to avoid the same problem. Too often I’ll just blame others when what I really need to do is to take ownership of the foolish decisions I have made and make adjustments. Potholes can teach me better and wiser ways of doing things.

Pothole Lesson #3 - Talk to others who have traveled your path.

One way to avoid potholes is to talk to others who have taken the road I plan to take. I like it when I map out a route on my phone and it lets me know if there’s construction or other delays. Having that information helps determine what path to take and what to expect along the way. As I consider careers, major purchases, and other significant decisions it’s wise to ask someone who has already gone down that path. Mentors in life can help me avoid potholes. I can learn from their mistakes. I can read biographies of successful people and learn from them. I can read the wisdom literature of the Bible – books like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and James – and gain insight from them. Whenever I hit a pothole I’m probably not the first to hit it and perhaps I can avoid some from the experiences of others.

So, next time you hit a pothole don’t just complain. Remember the lessons from the pothole and let it make you a better person.  

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