You read that correctly, and I’ll say it again. Once you create your own lane, there is no traffic.
Now, this is not relegated to coming up with a completely unique business idea that has no competition. Sometimes it is better to NOT be first to market, but rather look for a market that is well-established and has opportunity for improvement. But again, once you create your own lane, meaning a new version of a proven idea, then you have removed most if not all of the “traffic” in your lane. Traffic is defined as barriers to entry, oversaturation, or things like this in this context. You want to remove this so that you can cover as much ground (improve, dominate a market, etc.) as possible without having to slow down and wait on others.
If you are starting out playing a sport or learning to play a musical instrument, there are tons of people in your same level of skill. The better you get at your chosen endeavor, the sooner you thin the herd down to a more manageable size. As you reach a level of skill that has you in the middle of the pack in that activity, you might think you are only half way to the top. I don’t think this is accurate; I think that you are better than almost everyone on the planet already. All of the people who don’t participate in this same activity are also “traffic” that you have bypassed, not just the competitors or participants that you have elevated above so far. You are having experiences and seeing things differently that others that are also involved in the same activity.
When I reached the upper echelon of the sport of racquetball, I knew things and saw things that others did not. This sounds strange, but it is true. I literally had the capacity to see the same thing that others witnessed at a deep or faster level. I could comprehend things faster, process a larger chunk of information, and literally see things that others did not. Here is an example, any time I was coaching one of my students in a racquetball match, I would react before everyone else in the crowd when they would hit a great shot or make a great return. I saw it sooner, is the best way I can put it. We were all sitting at the same vantage point, witnessed the same thing that was happening, but I saw things that were happening and processed it sooner, or saw what was about to happen and predicted an immediate outcome accurately. When I played it was the same way, I did things others weren’t even aware of, unless they were a player of similar level. I wish I could do this in every aspect of life, but…
When I am in a bar watching a UFC fight, or a football game, it is not the same thing. I react at the same time as everyone else does. I do not have the depth of understanding of these sports as I do in the one I was at the very top of. I am in the middle of the pack in terms of understanding in these areas. I am stuck in traffic. When it comes to racquetball, I am driving on an open highway, hardly anyone in sight. In many other areas of life, I am in heavy traffic just like everyone else.
Life is like this in many ways, some of us strive to separate ourselves and leave the crowd behind. Others find safety in the middle of the herd, don’t want to break free and risk the exposure. Only you can decide what is best for you, but I can promise you, far too many people default to the safety of the herd despite a strong desire to break free. As the famous quote by author Henry David Thoreau goes:
Most men (people) lead lives of quiet desperation,
and go to their graves with their song still in them.
Man, ain’t it the truth… far too many people just don’t swing the bat when they are up at the plate. Many never leave the dugout, and that’s just referring to those who are willing to step on the field in the first place. All those people in the stands are not out there on the playing field, exposed, willing to try and fail. They are stuck in traffic. I understand, it is not easy to live a life that has you trying new things and failing at a frequent clip. But it is necessary. There is ROI in failure; the Return On Investment of trying something new, failing and trying again does a lot of things for you, so it is well worth the risk. And one more thought on this…you cannot live your life based on the opinions of others. No one starts at the same place, and no one is running exactly the same race. Comparison is pointless. Remember that.
If you want to clear the traffic and really get somewhere in life and in your own personal development, you have to break away from the masses. You have to be willing to try and do things differently and in a l manner that many would find uncomfortable. I have had several failed entrepreneurial ventures, and yet I keep coming back for more. My latest venture is the ChatterBox phone app; something I have never done before and had no experience in other than having downloading and using other common apps like Uber and Spotify. Not exactly a lot to go on, but I didn’t let that deter me. I am giving it a shot, and we will see where it goes. I have a bunch of things in the works already, and who knows what other ideas/opportunities/reward this will bring. It may fail miserably, and have cost me money. But I will have learned and grown, and sometimes that in itself makes the journey worthwhile.
My wife and I have not “followed the rules” that many others do, we made our own lane. We chose not to have kids, we lived together before getting married, she bought our first house and I rented from her. I kept all of my stuff in a storage unit until we had lived together for a year, just in case things didn’t work out. I didn’t have a foot out the door, I was and still am fully committed to our relationship. But I also know how many people dive in too quickly and then start from scratch when they learn they made a poor choice. We do not care what other people think about the size of our small house, the cars that we drive (both of which are 2016 models) or how we are preparing for the future. No one runs the same race and everyone starts from a different spot, so comparing ourselves to others is pointless. It is apples and oranges, and envy or jealousy lead nowhere good. We created our own lane, and the ride is much smoother because of it. I implore you to do the same.