The High Costs of Staying in Your Lane

“Stay in your lane.”

In the professional arena, the phrase signifies advice to remain within your job description (duty description in the military).

For those who’ve seemingly stepped outside their core positional duties, outside their lane, there is a unique awareness of the costs. The potential loss in credibility. The reduced political and social capital. The consequences of relationship friction with senior managers. The ever-present danger of being put back in one’s place. The risk that you won’t please everyone.

For those who stay in their lane, there are also costs. One can move forward in their career, ever avoiding the conflict and risk that lay just on the other side of the lane divider. The allure of the lane, the warmth of the comfort zone, and the absence of the cognitive dissonance that comes with choosing duty over duty description is often more than enough to prevent lane crossing. The biggest cost? Losing the part of your soul that knew they could change the world. The 6-year old with the indomitable spirit. Gone.

Imagine a world where EHS professionals’ first duty was to keep everyone happy. Where sitting in the stands was more important than playing on the field. Where completing the checklist mattered more than making a real difference. A world where what you believed was more significant than what you actually did.

That is the world of staying in your lane. Of duty description over duty. And the costs are very real.

Is your blinker on?

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