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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Drivers and Passengers

One of my favorite “Habitudes” is found in Book One of our series. It is called “Drivers and Passengers.” It’s simply a fresh way to communicate a growing issue in our culture today.

Consider this. People get into a car with different perspectives, based on whether they are driving the car, or merely a passenger on the trip. If you are the driver, you get into the car with a much greater sense of responsibility. After all, you’re the one making sure everyone gets to the destination. If you’re the passenger, your goal is to make the ride fun, so you don’t get bored. If you don’t get to the desired location, you can always blame the driver.

Earlier this month, a college graduate, Trina Thompson, filed a lawsuit against her college. She wants the $70,000 back that she paid for tuition. Why? The Monroe College grad said she hasn’t found gainful employment since earning her bachelor’s degree just a few months ago. She says, “They have not tried hard enough to help me.”

After reading a bit on the college, this seems like a classic case of “drivers and passengers.” Trina would like to blame someone for her unemployment. To be honest, I am sorry for her. But guess what Trina? You are not alone. Nearly 10% of America is without jobs. And the more you try to blame someone else for your state, the less responsibility you’ll take for your own life. This case is just one notch above the lady who sued McDonalds when she spilled their hot coffee on her lap years ago. Or the woman who called 911 this last spring because McDonald’s was out of chicken nuggets. The poor woman needed her nuggets and felt the police could help.

Please understand. I am not a man without mercy. Trina has school loans to pay, just like I have a stack of bills to pay. But check out the rest of the story. Monroe College offers lifetime free services for graduates. It is excellent service, too, according to previous graduates. The problem is not the school, it is a sagging economy and a blaming student. As I reflect on my past, I have learned that the more I search for others to blame for my poor destination so far… the more I lose any sense of control over where my life is going.

It’s time to take the wheel, and with God’s help…assume responsibility for where you are going. When you do, you’ll find this attitude is very attractive to those around you. In fact, it makes the people of this great country we live in want to help. But folks want to help others who don presume they deserve it…but who take the wheel and responsibility in their hands. We cannot be passengers. We cannot even be backseat drivers who want to tell others where to go.

It’s your destination. It’s your life.

(Incidentally, for more on Drivers and Passengers see Habitudes, Book One at:

1 Comment

  1. Tomphelps on July 2, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I generally love your writing and your ideas, but I have one complaint today.  Please verify and know the facts when you mention things that have been misunderstood in the news.  On this post you use the woman who sued McDonald’s over the coffee incident.  In this case, you may not know, the woman spent 8 days in the hospital and had to have skin grafts because the coffee was, in fact, DANGEROUSLY hot.  It was not a frivolous lawsuit that it is commonly made out to be by people who do not know the facts.  I have no personal affiliation with the family of the woman who brought the lawsuit.  You can read for yourself:

    On February 27, 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, ordered a 49-cent cup of coffee from the drive-through window of a local McDonald’s restaurant. Liebeck was in the passenger’s seat of her Ford Probe,
    and her nephew Chris parked the car so that Liebeck could add cream and
    sugar to her coffee. Liebeck placed the coffee cup between her knees
    and pulled the far side of the lid toward her to remove it. In the
    process, she spilled the entire cup of coffee on her lap.[10] Liebeck was wearing cotton sweatpants; they absorbed the coffee and held it against her skin, scalding her thighs, buttocks, and groin.[11] Liebeck was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her skin and lesser burns over sixteen percent.[12] She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting. During this period, Liebeck lost 20 pounds (9 kg, nearly 20% of her body weight), reducing her down to 83 pounds (38 kg).[13] Two years of medical treatment followed.

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Drivers and Passengers