The old Orion passenger bus trundled along the winding mountain road uncomfortably fast, especially considering that the road was still slick from a sudden rainstorm that afternoon. The driver, a disheveled man in his forties, rested his ample paunch on the steering wheel as he nervously took another turn causing the entire bus to slip out of control for a moment before straightening out.
“For the love of God, man, are you serious?” yelled one of the passengers, “You are going to get us all killed!” A chorus of agreement swept up throughout the bus.
“You are the worst driver!” piped up another passenger, a tiny man desperately trying to stay in his seat during each turn.
A small boy, perhaps twelve years old and sitting on the single seat near the driver raised his hand to speak but was drowned out by a cacophony of voices in the back.
“Turn onto the next exit you idiot!” Yelled one passenger.
“No, that is a dead end, just pull over and ask for directions!” screamed another.
Flushed with anger and embarrassment the driver tore his eyes from the winding road and focused on a well-dressed man in the second row waving his phone in the air.
“I’ve changed my mind!” the man said, “I don’t want this stop after all!”
The unintelligible roar from the bus overwhelmed the driver who slammed the brakes and, with a terrifying few minutes out of control, brought the bus to a complete halt. He hoped that this would quiet the passengers, but they only got louder and louder while they idled.
As the driver lowered his head in despair, the soft touch of the boy nearby caught his attention.
“Mister why aren’t you driving the bus?” he asked in a small whisper only the driver could hear.
“Can’t you hear them?” the driver muttered. “most of them hate the way I’m driving or want to go different directions…”
“I don’t understand.” The boy replied, looking around the bus curiously.
“What don’t you understand?” the driver snapped at the boy who recoiled as if slapped. With tears in his eyes the young man took a deep breath and put his hand back on the driver’s shoulder.
“Aren’t you the bus driver?” he asked softly. “We’re just passengers, you don’t HAVE to listen to us at all…you are the driver, right?”
Sitting up, the bus driver looked in the mirror at the crowd of voices behind him as he thought about what the boy said. With a wry smile he put the bus back into gear and pulled out again onto the road.
He was the driver after all.
One powerful way to combat all that negative self-talk that erodes our productivity and sense of fulfilment in life is to use the metaphor of the bus. These voices are usually trying to protect us from ourselves in some way, but they aren’t always useful. When we cede control to them, we can start to forget that WE are the driver of the bus, not all
those negative voices. They can yell, and they can scream, and they can cause all sorts of havoc, but at the end of the day WE are the drivers of our own bus.
Don’t let negative thoughts and impressions hurt your productivity. Be the driver after all.
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