Tuesday, June 26, 2012


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The first time I visited Chattanooga, TN when I was pursuing the girl who would become my Bride, I remember a traffic phenomenon that has stayed with me: Merging.

A major thoroughfare narrowed from four lanes to two, so the traffic could cross over a large bridge. The drivers would slow a bit, and with uninterrupted flow they would alternately form a single lane of traffic. Left, right, left, right... And they would cross the bridge with little time lost.

My previous experience with merging traffic, whether by observation or participation, involved stopping, rushing, squeezing-in, waiting, honking, and general frustration.

But the people at the bridge in Chattanooga did it seamlessly. Every time. Even years later, I saw the same traffic pattern, the same easy merge. My guess was they had been doing it that way for many years before I experienced it.

Why were they so successful at it? I surmised that these were the same drivers who crossed this bridge every day: factory workers, students, shift-workers, commuters. All following the same route, every day, for years. Learning from those who already knew how. Teaching those who began to drive the route. Keeping in mind the ultimate goal: Crossing the bridge safely, and as quickly as possible.

They had learned that merging, when done with deference, created a win-win situation for everybody.

Merging. When it's your turn, you go. When it's my turn, I'll go. Then the next person. Then the next. And so on... Each of us is just as important as the one before, and the one after.

Consider how proper merging can affect other relationships:
  • On a sports team - Each player has a role. When executed appropriately, the team functions properly. Result: Games are won.
  • On a team at work - All ideas are valued, the organization's mission and values are kept in mind. Result: Success is realized.
  • Among musicians - All the players/singers contribute their part. Each element contributes something that the others can't. Result: A beautiful sound.
  • In a marriage - Both husband and wife bring valuable input and perspective to a situation. Both partners are valued. Result: Harmony is achieved.
Merging. It's not about me. It's about us.

Question: How good are you at Merging? Share your thoughts below in comments.
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