Heading for a Crash?

dontlookatthewall-300x200You’ve probably had the experience of walking down the street and realizing someone is headed directly in a path directly toward you. You shift to the left. They shift to the left. You shift to the right. They shift to the right. Maybe, just maybe, you bump into each other. Why? Because you’re looking at each other! And humans are wired to head in the direction we’re looking. If you want to avoid running into that person, look AWAY from them, in the direction you decide to go!

Famous entrepreneur Robert Herjavec was interviewed recently about business and race car driving. His advice, which has been passed down from race car driver to race car driver:

Don’t Look at the Wall!!

I try this trick on my bicycle when I realize I’m about to run over an inanimate object or hit a pothole. Often I fail to look where I want to go, instead concentrating on the obstacle. The result? A very bumpy ride.

There are plenty of ways this metaphor can be applied to business (and maybe you thought that’s where I was going), but Thanksgiving is this week! So I thought I’d reflect on the way the “don’t look at the wall” rule applies to relationships and family.

Changing Family Dynamics

Is there one person in your family who tends to be disruptive or otherwise absorbing of attention? Are there moments when all energy goes toward that person instead of toward the connections between everyone else in the room? In those moments, you’re looking at the wall. What would happen if you remembered to look in a different direction?

Perhaps you have a sticking point with a member of your family. Every time you see them, the same problem spot rears its head. What if instead you focused on where you want your relationship to be going? What if you identified and expressed what Drs. Bob and Judith Wright identify as universal human yearnings, such as to be loved, to be connected, to matter, and to be seen and heard?

I’ve found that it makes a difference simply to acknowledge how things are now, and to talk about how you want things to be. I’ve been surprised with my own family that people I have conflicts or distance with want to work through our issues and get closer—just as much as I do.

Heart of the Fight 

The Heart of the FightIf you have fights that are running you into walls, or if you want to move through your conflicts faster and with better results, you might like the most recent book by the above-mentioned authors: The Heart of the Fight. What a great time of year to learn how to fight productively! You can use these tools into the new year and beyond.

This holiday season, can you be a good race car driver, diverting your eyes from the wall or from that sticking point you’re about to crash into? Can you keep your eye on the ball— the way you want your relationships to work, the love you want in your life, and the gratitude you want to express? Can you use your fights as a path toward intimacy? If so, I’m willing to bet you’ll win the race.

Leave a Reply