By: Kathy Bleier
The first time I drove stick-shift was a mess. It was dark out, I was exhausted from a long flight, and the airport car rental attendant was tapping her pen on the counter as she finished my paperwork. It was making me nervous — I was already so nervous.
“You can do this, Kathy,” I said to myself. “It can’t be that hard.”
I got behind the wheel and started to make my way out of the parking garage. The car would choke loudly as I shifted rather recklessly. Finally, nothing. I couldn’t understand why the car wasn’t moving as I stared at the gearshift. I looked up to see my obstacle. The car ahead of me was jammed into my front bumper.
I know what you’re thinking: “What does car talk have to do with my life?” Well to me, it was my defining moment. Trust me, I know nothing about cars. This is about a visual of sitting in the car driving versus being under the car fixing it. The driver or the mechanic.
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I realized my whole life I’ve been a fixer and everyone runs to me with their problems. It’s as if I have a sign on my door: “Leave all your troubles!” What I realized by being a fixer was that it wasn’t serving me, and for that matter, not really serving anyone else.
Frankly, I was a horrible mechanic. I was so consumed trying to fix everyone else that I was ignoring taking care of myself. It was draining, not bringing me any positive energy, and at the end of the day, I had nothing left. I decided I didn’t want to be a fixer anymore.
I moved from under the car to the driver’s seat and decided to take control. This was so liberating. Once I could see the road ahead and make choices, I could listen to my own GPS rather than listening to others’. I could also decide how much baggage I wanted to take with me in the car. Sometimes, I had room. But in other cases, my trunk was full and I had to say “No.”
I felt a sense of control I never had before. I started sharing my newfound thoughts with my friends and many of them began to realize how they were in a constant state of fixing. The move to the driver’s seat not only gave us control, but also a sense of release. A sense of no longer feeling the pressure of the car, because we were no longer underneath it.
We can’t help others when we ourselves don’t have direction. For me, it was always putting on my overalls and trying to help fix everyone else’s issues. Now, I’m in the driver’s seat and have the power of choice.
Sometimes I take the road in front of me, sometimes I take the scenic route, and sometimes I just park and think. Most important is the fact that I get to choose, no judgement, just simple choice. I find I can now help others in such a different way because I’m in control.
And in the end, a better sense of control was what I was seeking the whole time, especially that day outside the airport many years ago. I still remember getting out of the car and studying my damaged bumper. Terrified, I got on the ground to see if I could buff out the dent myself. Of course, I couldn’t, because I’m not much of a mechanic.
I’ll stick to driving my life, and by the way, I’ve gotten a lot better at driving stick.
After a career in Leadership and HR, Kathy Bleier made a pivot to coaching as she recognized her passion lies in empowering individuals and building on their strengths. She launched Kathy Bleier Coaching in early December and focuses on client leads, personal branding, marketing, and networking.
Originally published at https://www.ellevatenetwork.com.