Following Too Closely

Today while driving, I saw that the car in front of me was following the car in front of them extremely closely. Tailgating, riding the bumper, etc. In case you didn’t know, this is dangerous and stupid – it’s rude to the driver you’re following, but it puts you in danger as well.

While today’s scenario didn’t end in disaster, it did end in humorous inconvenience for the rude driver: the person in front needed to make a left turn, and the rude driver was following so closely that they were forced to wait, unable to maneuver around the front car despite ample shoulder room (which the rest of us in line, following at a respectable distance, were easily able to use). Instead, they had to sit there while the front driver waited for all opposing traffic to pass so they could turn left.

Now, I could just share that story so you could share in a little schadenfreude with me, but since I always like to look for lessons and metaphors in everyday occurrences, I’m going to take this a bit further.

“Following Too Closely” is something a lot of us do in life. Maybe we don’t do it to be rude, but perhaps out of eagerness to get to our destination. Regardless, we attach ourselves to certain leaders, inspirational figures, or role models and follow so closely in their footsteps that we can’t anticipate the potential dangers of doing so. We’re so close up their butts that we can’t see in front of them. Even great people make mistakes, so if you want the maximum benefit from taking inspiration or leadership from someone else, give them room to make them without you crashing into the back of them. If someone attempts something risky, you can wait and see how it turns out before you follow. Absorb the benefits of their trailblazing by letting them figure out where the trail goes.

Or, blaze your own. And if you do, make sure that those following you know that they should give you a little space as well. Blind dedication is rarely good for anyone. Give everyone a little extra space.

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