Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 166, June 2013 )
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The roads in Italy are generally two-lane, even on the Autostrade. And there is a huge disparity among vehicles, from tiny four-cylinder mini-cars to roaring Mercedes and BMWs (and even one Bentley that went howling by). The speed limits are the equivalent of 75 MPH.
The system works wonderfully well because everyone keeps right except when passing other vehicles. It's very rare to have to flash your lights and, as in the U.S., it's not unusual to run about 10 MPH above the limit. And many of these roads twist and turn around cliffs, or wind through mountain tunnels, or are squeezed between concrete barriers.
In the U.S., on the interstates, which are often multi-lane, people clog-up the high speed lanes. I've even seen 18-wheelers (and truckers used to be the most professional, polite drivers on the road) simply stay in the left lane, arrogantly holding up everyone behind them and causing unsafe passing on the right (virtually never done in Europe).
The Italians drive like this because they have to if they are going to get anywhere. No one is playing ego games or is oblivious to what's going on around them (because the risk of doing so may mean involuntarily leaving the roadway). We don't drive in the U.S. with a collective intent that everyone is expedited. We drive with a selfishness that we each rule the road. (I'd like to fire on the spot every New York City bus driver who blocks an intersection causing a hundred cars to miss a light.)
I'm all for individual freedom, and consider myself a very successful entrepreneur. But there are times when the collective good helps us all. Every car I approached in the left lane pulled over for me, and I pulled over for every car approaching me. No one had to blink lights and you only hear a horn when someone texting edges over into your lane.
If someone is on your tail, on the road or in life, I suggest you either accelerate or get out of the way.
The human condition: Tranquility
We often seem to be rushing from pillar to post (a reference to the manege: riding grounds for horses). We dash around at work, at play, even at rest—when we surf the web, jump into social media, chat on cell phones.
Vacations are often frenzied trips, rushing from highly-touted landmark to "in" restaurant, from five minutes at a beautiful vista to a three-hour drive back. Some of the most frazzled people I've ever seen are on vacation. Just take a look at them at airports, they look far more exhausted and frustrated than most business travelers and even soldiers returning to duty!
It's time to ensure we have some tranquility in our lives. Tranquility means "free from disturbance." Typical disturbances can be external or internal, another's demands or our own obsessive searching for the next event. But no journey is successful without rest, no trek can be completed without occasionally taking bearings. I find some people like dervishes, so constantly in self-imposed motion that they have no idea where they are or how they arrived. (I'm reminded of the most classic drunk line I ever heard at a bar, when the bartender tried to remove an inebriated customer: "I didn't walk in here, and I'm not leaving.")
Even Apollo 11 required a "tranquility base." I think so do we all, so that we can contemplate where we are, how we arrived, and where to safely travel next. I remember snorkeling once and, instead of following the crowd and searching for as many fish as possible, I just floated, barely moving, and in a little while hundreds of fish came to look at me. Sometimes the world comes to you—or at least you can focus on its mysteries much better, when you simply wait a bit.
Try some tranquility. Don't schedule it, just set back and stop beating yourself up for doing nothing. You are doing something. You're fine-tuning your senses.
New Workshop: KEEPING YOUR MONEY
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And these terrific sessions authorized by Alan:
I was heading out to Castle Hill in Newport to conduct the Million Dollar Consulting® College, so I made a point of charging my camera battery before I left. Midway through the week, I asked my colleague, Chad Barr, an accomplished photographer, to take the class photo. He told me, after several attempts, that the camera was dead, and I planned to rip into Nikon after Chad used my iPhone as Plan B
After the program, I returned home to write Nikon a nasty letter, and looking up their address found my camera battery still in the charger in my den.
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