How my values statement prevented potential road rage

1.34am, east-bound in the Melbourne CBD. He tailgated me, high beamed me and stopped beside me at the lights. We made strong eye contact and he did some hand gestures.

My heart rate started to increase and my defense mechanism began to kick in.

Should I race this guy? Speed up at the green light and then hog the lane all the way down? Show him a piece of me after that?

Him: <Began winding down the window>

Me: <Gave the “what’s the matter?” gesture back and wound down window>

Him: What are you doing man? Going at 20 on a 40 zone?

Me: I was going at 40 man.

Him: It’s a 40 zone so you can go at 50 man.

Me: I WAS at 40.

Him: <Looked away and looked at his steering wheel, not knowing what else to say.>

Me: <I looked away and looked straight ahead, and wondered what I should do/say next.>

Me: <Turned back at him>

Me: God bless you man!

Him: <Looked back at me in slight shock.>

Me: <Smiled at him, looked away. Then looked back at him.>

Me: You having a good night?

Him: Nah…not really…

Me: <Noticed that the lights turned green> You go ahead first man.

Him: Cheers and good luck! <He sped off ahead>

Me: <Smiled to myself>

So what’s the whole point of this, Dom?

The thing is that one week ago I was doing a workshop on personal branding in Monash University. And one of the sections was about discovering what one is about – his strengths, passions, values and purpose.

And I shared my own example.

These phrases made up my values: fullness of life, unlimited potential, helping others, being selfless.

I wrote those down on my notes myself.

Honestly, I would be the biggest hypocrite if I preached that I believed in bringing out the best in others, while using the same mouth, to curse and swear at someone just because of a trivial road incident.

It just doesn’t match up.

The fact that I wrote down my values meant that it was not just a good idea out there. It was personal and internalised. I was being serious about it when I put pen to paper.

And most importantly, I decided what my values were even before I was put in a trying situation.

Therefore, when the tough call came, it was difficult for me to act against my values – that wouldn’t make sense. Some would call this cognitive dissonance.

After this entire incident, I got 3 takeaways.

One. Don’t act on impulse even if it feels right or justifiable at that point of time. Don’t do things and don’t make decisions out of rage, fear, jealously, etc. Don’t do things which you would regret later on.

Two. It’s one thing to manage your emotions during the incident itself, it’s another to decide how you would respond even before the sh*t hits the fan and the rubber hits the road. Do this and you’ll be handling your decisions proactively, instead of reacting in a knee-jerk manner.

Three. Nobody’s perfect and everybody makes mistakes (even stupid ones) here and there. I’m no exception. The things which others do may be out of my control, but how I respond to that depends on me.

What an interesting drive home! Thank God everyone got home safely!


What did you think of this incident? Would you have responded differently? Feel free to share in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...