Years ago, I got in the habit of parking in the very last spot in the parking lot, in particular at work. I don't mean the last open spot. I mean I parked as far away from the door as I could, regardless of how many cars were already in the parking lot.
Over the years, people have noticed where I parked and asked why. Often, especially when my car was newer, they assumed that I was parking there to keep my door from being dinged. In retrospect, this was a practical and reasonable explanation, but it wasn't what I had in mind.
Honestly, I think my reasons have evolved over time. However, they fall into some basic categories:
- I could always find an empty spot there.
- It forced me to at least be a little active, even though much of my day may be spent sitting.
- I got more steps on my FitBit.
- I never had to try to remember where I parked.
- Walking far across the parking lot in the morning allowed me to shift my thinking to work.
- Walking far across the parking lot in the evening allowed me to shift my thinking to home.
- One time I answered that it was the closest I could park and still be at the far end of the parking lot (think about that for a minute).
I maintained this habit, rain or shine, for my almost my entire career with my previous employer. There were a few occasions where I would park closer to load or unload something, but I always moved back to "my spot" when I was finished.
A little over ten years ago, at a conference on Servant Leadership, I picked up a book by Jason Barger (Twitter @jasonvbarger) called:
Step Back From The Baggage Claim: Change The World, Start At The Airport
I highly recommend this book. It reminded me of another reason I might want to park in the last spot.
It saved a closer spot for someone who wanted or needed it
This could be a way of Serving others.
The more I thought about it, the more compelling this reason became. It was a little thing, but it might provide a bit of relief for someone who needed it. I'm okay with that.
The problem is that I have, on at least one occasion, been selfish about "my spot." In particular, after an extended international business trip, I arrived back at the office to find "my spot" occupied by a small, bright blue colored car.
I was... Indignant
After all, shouldn't that person KNOW that this was "my spot?" (refer to Reason 1 above).
When I caught what I was doing, I realized the danger of forgetting my original intent. I forgot what may have been a good (and even generous) rationale for doing something and simply continued to do it out of habit.
Then I got irritated when someone upset my routine
In this case, one of my original reasons for parking in the far spot was to extend grace to someone else by not taking a more desirable spot. Now I had completely lost my "why" when I became irritated at someone who desired "my spot."
As leaders, how often do we forget our why and act merely out of habit? How often do we become so selfish, protective and possessive of our routines, and our way of doing things, that we forget that the primary call to leaders is to serve others?
What are you doing today that has morphed into mindless, selfish habit? Can you revisit your original intent and intentionally, daily connect your actions to your why?
Don't Forget Your Why