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Driving in India is a Lot Like Life

Driving in India is quite an experience. There are far too many cars, gas powered rickshaws, busses, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles, and the occasional herd of cows. On first glance it’s total chaos, people trying to cross, moving into the flow of traffic, squeezing in and out. The first rule of Indian driving is that traffic lanes aren’t a requirement, they’re simply a suggestion. But the great surprise is that in the middle of what looks like total confusion, there are very few accidents, and in most cases, those that happen are just minor fender benders. It’s amazing really. But then, after you’ve been there a few times, and made the effort to really look at it closely, you notice something important:

Indian drivers don’t look back.  They’re totally focused on where they’re going – not where they’ve been. Even when changing lanes (a constant driving activity), they rarely look left or right, and don’t seem to care who’s coming up from the rear – they just make their move.

They leave it to the guy behind them to avoid the accident, and they just keep moving forward. It’s as if it’s an unwritten rule: The driver in back will keep from hitting me.

The more I think about it, driving in India is a lot like life. Too many of us spend way too much time worrying about what’s coming up from behind. We look over our shoulder, and focus too much on our past. But whatever happened back there is over, and the best thing we can do is to focus on what’s coming next.

I was a sprinter in high school, and one of the most common reason runners lose races is that when they’re in the lead, they can’t stand it, and have to look back at the competition to see where they are. But looking back slows them down just enough for someone to sprint pass them to victory.

Bitterness, frustration, failure, abuse – no matter what your past experience may have been, the next time you start dwelling on that past, think about drivers in India. It may look like chaos, but they get to where they’re going just fine.

They don’t look back, and neither should you.

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Phil Cooke is the founder and CEO of Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles (CookeMediaGroup.com) where his team helps church, ministry, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively through media. He's a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media."