I am a parent. And if, from that statement, it isn’t apparent that I fret about my child’s safety even before I have any real reason to, then you probably aren’t a parent yourself.
As my daughter nears the day she will have a driver’s license and backs out of the driveway all by herself, I discuss good driving principles with her more and more frequently as I drive her from here to there. I also point out examples of bad driving techniques for her to avoid.
One of the things I learned from my own father – and that I now quiz my daughter about whenever I think of it – is a great rule about going in reverse that he repeated to me frequently enough that I remember it well.
The rule is what he called the Two F’s of Backing Up: When going in reverse, do not back the vehicle any further or any faster than you need to.
It’s not only a great rule for driving; it is a great rule to live by. Sometimes in life, we may need to go in reverse. When we make a decision that needs to be adjusted in mid-course; when we make a commitment we realize we cannot keep; when circumstances out of our control call for putting things in reverse, we need to remember not to go too far or too fast. When we do, we usually make matters worse.
The universality of this advice occurred to me recently when we were invited to go camping with some friends. With little (meaning no) camping experience under my belt, one of the things I had a tiny little bit of anxiety about was bears. I shared this concern with my best friend, an experienced camper: “So, I’ll be sleeping with no more than some nylon fabric separating me from the bears.” She assured me that their family never sees bears when they go camping.
But it is true that if we see a bear in the wild, the best thing to do is back away. Slowly back away. Don’t run. Just calmly and slowly back away. That, I remember from my extreme outdoor survival training in the cub scouts.
If you are not getting the resources you believe you were promised in order to be able to do your job effectively, do not give up and give in to cynicism and become a part of the problem by creating or contributing to a culture of negativity. Cautiously communicate your concerns.
If someone close has hurt or disappointed you, do not back out of the relationship further or faster than is absolutely necessary.
If you made a commitment that somehow becomes impossible to keep, either because you over-promised or because unforeseen circumstances have gotten in the way, do not give up completely. Stick with it and do as much of what you committed to do as you possibly can.
If you back up further and/or faster than you ought to in a car, you could have an accident. Proverbially going in reverse further or faster in other settings and situations can result in burned bridges. Never a good idea. Who knows; you may want to drive across one of those proverbial bridges in the future.
Don’t live by what you see in the rearview mirror. And don’t disregard the need to proceed with caution, whether backing or shifting into full speed ahead. I’ve learned that from my dad. I am doing my best at passing that along to my daughter.
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