Traffic in Delhi, India may be the 8th wonder of the world. Traffic signals and painted lanes on the road are mere suggestions. There is everything from trucks to sedans to motorcycles carrying whole families to tuk-tuks to bicycles to pedestrians and cows. People expect you to honk to alert them that you’re on their right or left, or flash your lights at night. Gridlock is common. Miss your turn? No problem, just back up and let other people get out of your way, even if it’s 200 yards. Very few first-time visitors can calmly sit in the front seat of the car. The picture above does not do the experience justice! Drivers in India may be the most skilled people in the country because they must know the dimensions of the vehicle to the millimeter.
Frame of reference matters. One my colleagues from Delhi is terrified to drive in the United States. He says, “You have to drive on the wrong side of the road [India is a British left-lane driving country.] You have to stay inside your lane. Everyone goes very fast. You have to pay attention to the signs and signals. And no one honks to let you know they are near you!”
I would never drive in Delhi because I would likely kill people. I don’t know how to drive safely in those conditions. But millions of Delhi citizens drive every day.
Key leadership lesson: The other way works, too.
Be on watch for your tendency to think and operate as if “your” way is the only reasonable way to get something done. There are many ways to accomplish results. “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – George S. Patton