The traffic light ahead is about to turn colour. Your day has already been filled with delays, and you can hardly afford another one, even a couple of minutes. Will you make it through the intersection or be stuck at the lights? 

It’s all about perception. If we view beating the lights as an accomplishment, our reaction when approaching one is colour-coded: It’s my lucky day – every light I hit today was green! We could have both made it through the amber light, but the idiot in front of me didn’t know how to drive. I was slammed by nothing but red lights all the way here. 

Victory over the lights can offer a small secret satisfaction against the many frustrations and delays we encounter daily. It’s us against the system! We mentally chalk up one for the good guys whenever we’re not the car that gets stuck at the lights. But obvious safety issues aside, is beating the lights a practice worth re-examining? We think so.

We invite you to join the First at the Lights Club.

Membership is free. There are no meetings, no volunteer hours required, or hidden catches. It’s a simple idea. The next time you approach a traffic light, continue if it’s green. If it turns amber, think twice before you try to push through. Let the person ahead of you be the last to defeat the red while you slow down to a smooth stop. 

Now, look where you are – congratulations, you’re first at the lights! You have a clear picture of what’s ahead; you get to set your own pace once it turns green and guide those behind you. Best of all, you have a couple of minutes to refresh yourself mentally. Breathe. Being first at the lights on purpose is a circuit breaker. It helps reduce automatic driving syndrome – that realization we have no recollection of how we got somewhere, yet we’ve arrived. It’s a chance to grab a short break from our overloaded days and collect our thoughts. Enjoy the feeling.

The concept of first at the lights is transferrable to our work habits. If your practice is to push through situations despite warning lights, inevitably, an accident will eventually happen, and your business may crash. This is especially relevant in volatile environments. Consider business cycles as traffic lights. They don’t stay green forever, so become better prepared for any full red stops by slowing down, thinking, and planning when warning signals first appear. 

It’s seldom the traffic lights’ fault when a crash occurs. Instead, a lack of planning, poor driving habits, ignoring past experiences, distractions, and a lack of focus on the big picture point to operator error. Most of us have a blind spot when it comes to admitting we might need help developing our skills, regardless of whether we are a new (business) driver or first got behind the wheel years ago. It’s easy to blame the other guy when things collide, but truly, we first need to look inward. 

Activate your membership today. Be mindful of traffic lights in life and business, appreciate the meaning in their colours and enjoy the reminder they provide when you’re first at the lights – on purpose.