The sign appears unexpectedly and declares, “Lane Closed Ahead.” What do you immediately do?

Well, you probably take your foot off the gas pedal, and you may apply the brakes. You look to see if there is anyone behind you and on either side of you. You look ahead to try to figure out if it is your lane that is closing. And you look for an alternative lane to drive in.

If the alternative requires merging with other traffic, you begin negotiating a way to move over into the traffic. You look around to see what your options are, and adjust your speed accordingly. The blinker goes on. You merge slowly, carefully, yet confidently. You might reach over and turn down the music or radio. (I would.) All this happens quickly, in just a moment, because you are calling on experience, understanding, and skill, which were in place long before the sign presented itself.

We respond to a Lane Closed sign because it automatically has a lot of reliability—we believe it. It contains information we need to know, so it commands our attention. We know that it identifies something we need to react to. The meaning it conveys is clear, and it is useful not just to me and my car but to the other drivers on the road as well. And we know that it tells us of a situation we can do something about—we have both the time and means to respond.

I’m sure that you can see where this column is leading. What do we do in our daily lives when we come to a metaphorical sign that says, “LIFE Lane Closed Ahead”?

Probably the first thing we do is ask ourselves if what we are observing is credible.  And when we determine that it is, we act instinctively out of our experience, our values, and our culture. We act quickly on behalf of our own safety, the safety of our families, and the people and things that we love. We look for other roads forward, for our best options and opportunities. And we take the actions necessary to keep moving forward.

Most importantly—we respond. We don’t crash. We don’t wait until it is too late to do something that matters. And we find our way forward.

While a Lane Closed Ahead sign can be frustrating and unexpected in my life, I’m always thankful for the warning signs along the way that allow me the opportunity to respond with good choices in good time.