Have you ever heard the expression "stay in your lane" at work or at home? The expression, for those that are not familiar with how it is used, refers to decision making and input about about various situations in your life and/or it can be about any opinion you may have about a certain topic.
For example, in the education circle, if you are a teacher and a building decision is made, someone may say that you should “stay in your lane” and allow the building administration to make that decision. At a higher level within your company you may be encouraged to “stay in your lane” and keep that type of a decision to those that have the position to make the call.
As a parent, if you don’t like what you are seeing during your student-athlete’s sporting contest, you may want to share your opinion with the coaching staff. In this situation, you may want to “stay in your lane” and let the coaches coach and the parent parent.
Of course, this expression can be used thousands of times over. From parenting, to the way a grocery store is laid out, to decisions made at your place of employment, to everyday decision making under your own roof. Staying in your lane, however, is high risk versus high reward.
Ask yourself this question: How often do you “stay in your lane” where you work and live each day? Do you have an environment where it is encouraged to process, push back, offer input and give feedback to decisions that are made that have an impact to a greater audience? And, when you do offer feedback, solicited or not, how is that received by your colleagues or family?
Staying in your lane has both negative and positive connotations. Based on your answers to the questions above, you will know rather quickly whether or not you should stay the course (in your lane) or take the risk of stepping, or swerving (carefully) from side to side.
Consider the following of high risk, high reward for staying in your lane versus not. Keep the following in mind as you consider whether or not you should offer input and step out of your lane:
- Is your input necessary?
- What are you intentions?
- Consider your approach. Ask for a conversation.
- Remember the goal in mind.
- You are part of the team.
- Recognize that some decisions just need to be made.
There is no easy way to determine whether or not you should stay in your lane. Every situation presented will have its own response. If you read through this and realize you are always within your 12 feet and never cross over the dotted line (or worse, the lines where you work or live are double solid), you may want to take a step back and assess the very foundation of where it is you spend your days.
In the end, it is the relationships you form that are essential and those will drive decisions within the organization. If you have not established trusting and purposeful interactions with those with whom you work and live with, whether or not you should stay in your lane is the least of your worries.
Have critical conversations, build upon what you have and trust your instincts. If your work environment is anything like mine, you have powerful opportunities to grow collaboratively and with support. The team is the most powerful aspect of what we have. Believe in it, lean on it.
And finally, as you go into the second half of the school year have a goal of encouraging feedback and collaboration. And, take inventory of the relationships you have formed. Find balance on the road you are on going forward into the New Year.