As I pulled out of the gym today I realized I couldn't see through the back windshield well enough. Obviously someone had been lacking their responsibility of getting my car washed. Oh, right. That's me.
Thankfully there was a car wash right across the street, so I drove there quickly, but when I turned the corner leading to the entrance, I saw it. Twelve vehicles, six in each lane, all waiting to get through the payment station. Another seven vehicles had made it past the automated guardrail that raises and lowers after each driver pays, but were still far from the entrance to the wash. I had the feeling those seven had been there for a while. But there, in the third, empty lane, sat a lone orange cone channeling its inner Lord of the Rings as it taunted all of us.
I pulled into the second lane and decided to get a car wash anyways. I had some time to kill.
That's when it happened...
A gentleman. Nay. A hero...NAY! A true man of honor! Yes! He came into my line of sight as he graciously traveled among the pile of vehicles finding his way to the third, empty lane. There, he stopped to place his hand upon the head of the heinous orange cone, and justly removed it from its resting place, vanquishing it with a toss!
Then, I froze.
There were new vehicles lined up behind me, vehicles in front of me, and vehicles to the left of me. If I pulled out of my lane and got through the car wash before all these people in line, wouldn't that be rude? Wouldn't people get mad? What if I got to the payment station only to find out that it was a mistake, and I embarrass myself as I have to go in reverse all the way to what was now an ever-growing line of vehicles? I was ashamed that I'd even thought of heading straight for the front of the line.
That's when I noticed that while I was pondering all this shame from a simple orange cone being removed of its standing, no one else had pulled into the third, empty lane. It had been nearly 17 seconds since the cone was moved. Surely, someone would take advantage of the access. Surely...except no one did. So I did.
Yes, you better believe it. I slowly went into reverse giving myself just enough room to pull out of my lane while avoiding the vehicle behind me, veered into the third, empty lane, paid for my car wash, was immediately granted access by the automated guardrail, and gave myself back an estimated 45-60 minutes of the day.
It's amazing that most of us don't feel any shame staying stuck in our lives, but when God moves the orange cone and opens up the lane for anyone, we reason ourselves into shame. We don't want to offend anyone else. We feel bad that we would be taking advantage of the opportunity when others won't.
Do you know what I saw behind me when I finally crossed that guardrail? A line of all the cars that had originally been waiting behind me in the second lane. It was as if everyone was just waiting for someone to show them that it was alright to take that open lane opportunity!
Some of your greatest leadership opportunities can be recognized when you see the orange cone moved, and shame tries to stop you from driving into that empty lane to the front of the line. That's when you should know there are other people who are experiencing the same thing. And, they might just need someone like you to show them it's alright to move forward.
Watch for orange cones today. When you see them move, act! Lead the way! Or, maybe, be the hero who dares to move the cone yourself.