Thursday, August 12, 2010

Five Life Lessons I've Learned from My GPS

Last month, I finally joined the 21st century and purchased a GPS system for my iPhone. And now that I've been using it for a few weeks, I have discovered something amazing. It is not just a travel accessory – it has also become sort of a spiritual advisor.

Here are some of the life lessons I have learned from my GPS:

1) Slow down. Picture this. My wife and I are having a great time at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware last week on vacation. So great that we lose track of the time. And now here we are sitting in a traffic jam at the beach, 120 miles away from a Phillies game starting in less than two hours, for which I had $70 worth of tickets. So I drive like a maniac to get there, as my GPS continually updates our precise arrival time, and save ... a whole two minutes.

I am one of those type-A people who is constantly rushing through life. And what the GPS is telling me is that all that cortisol squirting through my bloodstream is really for naught. I may as well relax and enjoy myself more, because rushing the rhythm of life doesn't help me anywhere near as much as I thought.

2) Trust in a higher power. Years ago, getting somewhere required me to be in control of everything. I had to purchase maps, look up routes, get directions (yeah, I know, men never ask for directions...), and then keep track of the route along the way. But now, I have to put my trust in the GPS. I set a goal, it tells me only where to turn next, and I have to follow it.

In life in general, I also often feel that I have to be in control of everything. But I really am not. There is a saying that "man plans, God laughs," and I need to laugh along more. Life itself only gives us directions one turn at a time, and I am slowly learning to trust that each step will lead me to a good destination.

3) You get to do things over. What happen when I ignore the pleasant, detached voice of my GPS? It simply tells me what to do next. No criticism, no raised voice. It doesn't even tell me it is recalculating the route, like some models used to do. It just pleasantly tells me where I can turn next to get back on track.

So what would happen if every boss, every parent, and every spouse suddenly started acting like a GPS? Never criticizing, never saying "I told you so," just patiently telling the people they love how to get back on track again? I think the world would be a much better place.

4) Stay charged up. GPS systems need a lot of power, and I cannot use it for very long without plugging it in to be charged. This is a good reminder that I too need to stay "charged up" with good food, quality sleep, and positive people as I careen through one busy day after another.

5) Think big. What would you do if you knew that you could never get lost? That you could find your way out of any situation? That you couldn't fail? Would you take on bigger and better things than you are now?

Like most people, I used to have terrible stage fright. Nowadays I speak comfortably to audiences of hundreds of people all the time - and in fact, even one talk I gave to 5000 people felt like another day at the office. What changed? The simple belief that I cannot fail. Whatever happens on stage, living in the moment and not worrying seems to get me through it. And this is turning out to be a great perspective to have for just about everything in life.

So to my surprise, it turns out that I am getting directions from my GPS at several levels. Where is yours leading you?

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