Passenger or Driver?

I can’t believe I have not posted on this topic yet.  This is one of my favorite things to talk about with my student staff & other campus leaders.

Are you the passenger or the driver?
I can’t remember at all where I learned this concept from.  But, it is a PERFECT analogy for what we (as individuals & SA Pro’s) do every day.

It is a pretty easy concept.  A car requires a driver to drive along the road.  Someone who is ‘in the drivers seat’ and driving the car.  Sometimes, we are that person.  Other times we are the passenger.  I always like to think about those really old and long station wagons…

There’s the driver seat, the front passenger seat, then the second row…. finally we have the seats facing backwards.  The ‘adults’ usually sat in the front seats.  The older children in the middle seats and the young goof-balls in the back row.

Do you let things happen to you? or do you make them happen?
For that individual (or 3) in the back row facing the wrong way.  How do you impact the driver? (aside from yelling & screaming &…) Can you really control if the car gets on the highway or not?  What if you are reading a book or sleeping?  No! You have no control at all.  Even the folks in the middle row… if you are not actually holding the steering wheel, you are not in control.

There are definitely times that we need to be in both roles.  I wonder, however, if sometimes we should be that driver but instead we are passengers – looking at the world pass us by hopelessly and helplessly.

Do you think that you are in control?
I challenge my student leaders (RA’s) often to take control of their situations.  This might be for a particular class, applying for med-school, or controlling how our 1:1’s go.  If there is something they want, they need to make it happen.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to take ahold of that wheel and be in control of my outcome too.  (I’m not perfect either)  Also, I have to remind myself not to grab ahold of someone else’s wheel!

What about back-seat drivers?
My students often ask me this question.  I challenge them right back and ask them – what were to happen if I was the front seat passenger in your car & I reach over with my foot and slam on the gas?  Who is in control now?

I’d argue that the driver is still in control.  The driver just needs to gently push my foot off the gas and re-gain that control.  It is, afterall, your car.

Next steps:
Take a moment to think reflectively about three things you have done today …

  • Were you in charge of all three of them?
  • How could you have asserted yourself to be the driver in each situation?
  • What might you have done differently?
  • Is there a situation in particular that you would like to take control over?
  • How can you do that?

A final quick subnote.  Have you figured out that you can subscribe to the blog? There’s no need for me to spam your twitter feed with the links…. Be the driver on your web-browsing experience and subscribe!


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