Not long ago I was in the middle of teaching a three-hour class when I received a notification on my phone from the fire alarm at my house. We have one of those new smart detectors that can notify your phone of an emergency. My first thought was about my wife and kids in the home. I pressed pause on teaching and quickly called my wife, who was frantic on the other end, talking about the house filling with smoke. I put my class onto a class project and ran out the door, jumped in my car, and took off towards home. With emergency flashers on, I was racing safely, yet speedily home.
All was going well until I got about a half mile from my house and another driver got angry because I was speeding (even with my emergency flashers) and tried running me off the road, causing me to narrowly miss an oncoming car. The other driver then proceeded to follow me with bright lights on, all the way to my street. You can imagine the thoughts I was thinking about this other driver. As I pulled onto my street, the fire trucks were lining the road. It was then the other driver decided to keep going and leave me alone. Fortunately, our house was not on fire and my family was safe; however, I learned an important lesson on understanding.
The moment the other driver saw the fire trucks, he gained understanding about my situation—whether I was right or wrong in my action—he saw why I had responded the way I did. What would happen if we were to seek understanding first, and set aside the desire to be right or wrong? Often times professional coaches find themselves in front of the burning house with firetrucks, attempting to handle a crisis, that could have been handled with proper understanding initially. I probably did not need to rush so hurriedly home had I understood more clearly the origin of the smoke. The other driver would not have to force me into harm’s way had he understood the emergency I was rushing towards.
What situation in your life, your career, your family, your relationships could you benefit from more understanding? What long term impact would learning understanding have for your life?