July 27, 2012
On a road trip with my 18 year old son, we headed home from a jaunt to Minnesota.
Coleman wanted to drive most of the way.
Coleman has driven, but not in urban rush hour, or urban driving at all for that matter.
So I let him take the wheel, heading out onto 35W from Minneapolis to Stromsburg. We drove through rain and at times I felt like I was ridding a glass marble on a sheet of ice. My right leg ached as I phantom-drove the car, pressing my foot into a phantom brake on the passenger side floormat. Trying my very best to not over correct, but to let him learn how to drive was a lesson that was delivered to me, maybe even more than to him.
What I learned was that he’s a good driver, he’s not perfect and he doesn’t drive like I do. He’s still a little spazzy, still a little distracted, but with each mile, he’s better than I was at 18 – by a long shot. As parents and as leaders how often are we driving for others when they’re supposed to be driving themselves? How often are we such control freaks that we don’t let those who have the talent do what they do? Yes, I did feel at times like getting out of the car and kissing the dry interstate around Omaha, but more importantly my job was to let my son drive and learn how to drive better without me constantly in his ear – hey, hey, hey, slow down, slow down, watch it, watch it!!! That takes as much power to control myself as power to want to control my kid’s driving or any part of their lives.
Guide, yes. Nag, no. They’ll listen to you more if you speak maybe a bit less.
Are you doing that as a leader? Are you doing that as a parent? Yes, our kids and our teams do need to know that someone is in control, but it’s our job to let them have the wheel if we ever want them to drive.