On a recent trip to Lansing, I had a bit of an epiphany.
It is a straight shot on I-96 to Lansing from South Lyon. Nearly a straight, concrete, yellow-striped path across lower Michigan. The drive is an hour in length and nearly exactly sixty miles in distance. It is an easy drive that I used to do on a daily basis when I was younger and gas a lot cheaper. There are a few communities right off the freeway between South Lyon and Lansing that offer a neat picture of Midwestern, small town living. Idyllic, really.
Like the artery of an overweight, compulsive fast food connoisseur, there is a lot of congestion this particular morning. Around South Lyon, I-96 West is a three lane highway. A three lane artery with cars headed in the same direction.
As cars jostle in traffic, trying to find our rhythm as we head towards our destination, we see the same cars. We pass each other, follow each other, get out of the way of others getting on or off the freeway. We can spot a “long hauler” by how they flow through traffic, but also by how they simply seem to stay around us as we travel towards our common goal.
Having traveled this freeway many times, I know those three lanes collapse to two lanes as I head West to Lansing. And where they will merge. What amazes me about the commute this time, is the press of vehicles, the clog in the artery that I jumped into, thins out.
Before the freeway goes to two lanes.
About seven miles before the freeway merge, is Brighton. Brighton is a respectably sized city. There is a fair amount of population around Brighton to be a stopping off point for many of today’s travelers. It is almost as if those commuters could sense that things were going to get tight very quickly.
Yet today, the epiphany strikes me.
Exiting the freeway at Brighton is similar to stopping at good.
Next Stop: Great!
Don’t get me wrong, Brighton is a nice town, for sure. And, as a graduate of the Maize and Blue, I have a hard time equating Lansing with greatness ;-). But please follow my, obviously, flawed analogy.
What caught me on this trip was that I could identify the long haul commuters and that we were all focused on getting to our destination with as little commotion as possible. Yet, as we came upon Brighton, before the path became increasingly narrow, we long haulers had to pay close attention to those exiting at Brighton.
On our journey through life, we really should be aiming to attain greatness in our lives. Not that we will necessarily become great ourselves. Rather:
… that we hold ourselves out to practice excellence.
… that we strive to give our all.
… that we leave everything we are, and have, on the floor.
The Long Haulers
For those in the discipline of practicing excellence, we need to keep our eyes on the prize when something good comes along. Many of the folks around us will be satisfied with simply “good” or “good enough.” There is a real danger in being distracted by the droves of folks taking this exit. After all, if it’s good enough for them, who am I to press on to what I know is better?
Life is rarely about near term results. Sure, there are pressing, immediate needs, but it is becoming increasingly obvious to me that life is a marathon, not a sprint. In your life, what long term planned item are you unwilling to compromise on? What goal do you have that you will NOT stop at “good enough,” but rather press through to great?