A Leadership Parable
"Our goal was to move to Autheni-City with the whole family. We had seen pictures of it and heard it was a great place to not only visit but to live. In fact, Mary and I had some friends move there a few years ago, and they say it’s the best!
We were living in Toxi-City at the time. We had lived there for a few years, but it was enough time to embrace our surroundings yet not too much for it to really feel like home. It felt like there was another place for us somewhere.
There was a lot of noise where we used to live—very industrial, very loud and very dirty. Mary was sick a few times with an upper respiratory infection and our kids were frequently sick. later we discovered I was the carrier! I wasn’t really watching my health. I would get ill, then pass it along to Mary and the kids. I guess I needed to wash my hands and cover my mouth more. Mary made several trips to the doctor’s office with the kids during those years.
I can remember our neighbors, the Quicks. What a fun family to be around! They had moved here from Velo-City, which is the city just north of us. You have to go through Velo-City on your way to Toxi-City if you are coming from the airport. The Quicks were always the life of the party. They were wired for energy, always smiling, always in a hurry. Their kids played multiple sports, were in honors classes, and were super involved with the youth group at church. I have never known a family to get so much done with so little time. We never really had quality time together with them, but they were always very nice to us.
There was something about Toxi-City that we didn’t want to leave behind. It could have been the friendships we developed, or maybe we were just afraid of change. We departed Toxi-City on a Monday and got to Capa-City later that evening. As we arrived in Capa-City, everyone in the family was a little hungry, so we went looking for a place to eat. One of the kids pointed out a huge billboard on the side of the road. It was hilarious. I had to pull over and get a picture so I could post it. In fact, I still have it on my phone. The sign said, “Stop Here! Don’t Go Beyond Capa-City Without Stopping And Saying Hi!”
I had never driven through Capa-City, but I had flown over Capa-City so many times I felt like I had been there. I had been traveling a lot the last few years, so I would make the hour’s drive through Velo-City to the airport about four times a month. Driving through the city didn’t really feel the same as flying over it. When you are over Capa-City you would hardly recognize it. It seemed so small, contained and in order. I guess the higher up you are, the less movement you see below. We ended up stopping and grabbing something to eat at one of the local restaurants. Very nice people, great food and great banana cream pie! I think our family enjoyed being in Capa-City more than I enjoyed bring over it.
We finished eating and left Capa-City. We had been on the road for several hours without a stop for food or facilities. Everyone was feeling a bit cramped. Cam, Alec and Karimy were getting restless. Mary wanted me to pull over, and to make matters worse I had not been watching the GPS. We were off course. I rarely ask for directions. I’m a guy, and we don’t do that. I saw a sign up ahead. As I tried to drown out the sounds of discontent from the backseat, I could barely make out the name of the city we had inadvertently detoured to; it was Auda-City.
No, we didn’t stop here. Why? Because I didn’t want to. Yes, the rest of the family was hungry. Yes, we all needed to use the facilities, and no I wasn’t willing to admit it was my fault for getting lost. After all, I am the one driving while everyone else is texting, watching a video, playing on their iPod, reading their Kindle or sleeping. I am the one trying to keep my eyes open and not fall asleep. I am the one who is sacrificing. I am the one making
sure everyone’s needs are met. How about a little thanks, I thought.
I drove recklessly through Auda-City until I was forced to slow down by my friends at the Highway Patrol. This made matters worse. “Dad, you are in trouble,” was the chorus from the back. This only made me more upset. Mary didn’t say a word; she just looked at me with her arms crossed. Even though she didn’t say anything I knew she was right, but I couldn’t admit it.
The officer walked up and asked me the question I had heard a few times before: “Do you know how fast you were going?” This wasn’t the time for sarcasm, however much I wanted to let it flow. Instead, I just apologized for my speed and arrogant disregard for personal or family safety. I told him we were headed for Authenti-City and I took a wrong turn about 30 miles ago, and that’s how we ended up here in Auda-City. The officer’s response wasn’t what I expected. He told me he talks to at least five people a day who miss that turnoff. “It’s easy to miss,” he said.
He handed back my license and said, “I’m going to forgive you for this one; just do a U-turn right here.” He pointed with his hand. “And head back to where you missed the turnoff. Have a good rest of your journey.”
I pulled out slowly, made the U-turn and headed back to the missed turnoff. From the back of the car I could hear, “Dad, you are so lucky!” They were probably right. I deserved a consequence for my arrogance. Before I could say anything, Cameron said, “It’s a good thing they allow U-turns in Auda-City,” to which Mary added, “I know, right?”
We weren’t too far from Authenti-City at this point. We were all playing a game that Karimy made up. Something about “I’m going on a trip and . . .” We were all laughing and joking around. Alec started in with one of his rhymes that he pulls out of nowhere; Cameron was talking a mile a minute in one of his made-up voices; and Karimy was talking to Mary about a new recipe she wanted to try. I just continued to drive, with a smile on my face, hoping and praying that our lives together as a family in Authenti-City would be a destination worthy of the journey."
1. Have you visited or lived in any of the cities in this parable?
2. What did you learn in the cities you visited?
3. Where do you currently reside?
Excerpt taken from Pages 124-125 of From Hectic to Healthy: The Journey to a Balanced Life
Photo Credit: © Barry Yanowitz https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomvu/ (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomvu/)