Have you ever heard someone described as “well-rounded?” I always think of that as a massive compliment whenever I hear someone described that way. To be well-rounded, in my mind, means you have great knowledge, a multitude of experience, and a tool belt full of skills and talents.
But becoming well-rounded doesn’t happen by staying in your rut – sticking in your day-to-day routine, doing the same ol’ thing hour after hour, and circling in on the one thing that you might be good enough to earn your paycheck and maybe even get a couple of promotions along the way.
A couple of years ago, a boss of mine introduced me to the phrase “passing lanes.”
It came up when I was wanting to get back to leading worship on some Sundays at our church. Leading worship is in no way in my normal job description. It’s not part of my responsibilities at all, so it technically doesn’t fall in “my lane.”
However, my boss told me he was fine with me leading once a month or so because he felt it was important to keep that skill and passion alive. In fact, what he said was he thought “passing lanes” were important.
Passing lanes are the things that you do outside of your normal job but are things you enjoy to let you take a break from your normal 9-5. For example, I lead worship once a month at Cross Point. It’s not part of my job, but it’s a passing lane for me that allows me to do something different, think differently and approach my day-to-day with a different view.
I took that phrase and tucked it away to ponder on a little more and think about why these “passing lanes” were important. And here are 4 things that passing lanes do for you:
1. Give you a break.
We all get tired, right? We can only do the same thing for so long before we need a new challenge, change of scenery or fresh routine.
Forbes says that by the time millennials reach 35, they will have worked five jobs.
And one of the main reasons for that is that millennials want something fresh and new. Millennials want a say in the direction of their careers and what they get to do during work time. But when you’re freed up to take a passing lane every once in a while, you have the chance to try out new things and shape some of your day-to-day for yourself. You’re able to experience some of the aspects that you might look for in a new job while having the security of staying in your role. Rather than getting tired of the same old same old, a passing lane gives you a break from the monotony and a chance to come back to your normal role refreshed.
2. Give you a fresh perspective.
Now leading worship isn’t part of my normal job lane. However, I do work with our music and production teams frequently, and leading worship gives me a fresh take on how to work with them. Getting in their world a little gives me an appreciation and understanding of what they do every single day. It gives me perspective on how to better work with that team and the challenges they face. Passing lanes don’t just give fresh perspective on your co-workers lives, though. A passing lane gives you a broader worldview. Another passing lane for me is photography. Being able to get behind a camera every once in a while opens my eyes to see the world in a new way; it makes me a part of a different culture. Because I like to take photos, I follow some photographers and publications online and I am exposed to a totally different world than I normally would be a part of.
3. Make you more creative in your role.
Whenever you take a passing lane, you’re forced to think differently. Like we’ve already said, passing lanes give you a fresh perspective, and part of that perspective is thinking about what you’re doing in a different way. That’s also why a passing lane can feel like a break. But after you’ve taken that passing lane, you’ve experienced a new way of thinking, and you’ll notice that when you’re first back to your job, you’ll think about the work in front of you in a whole new way.
Adjusting the way you see the world and the way you solve problems in your passing lane translates back to your day-to-day thinking, and that’s what being creative is all about.
Being creative is all about looking for new ways to solve problems, and creativity in your role is what will make you stand out from the pack.
4. Grow your network.
Different people do different things, and it’s never a bad thing to grow your network both in and outside your normal “lane.” Meeting people who do all sorts of different things will magnify the three things we’ve talked about already and will give you contacts for the future. Being a contributing part of the global community means connecting with people who do all sorts of different things in all corners of the world. Finding and using your “passing lanes” opens up a whole new community for you.
Part of the trick for you might be finding what those “passing lanes” are. What are the things that you can do as part of your work that don’t fall directly in your world? Have a conversation with your boss about building in some time in your schedule to experiment with some passing lanes, and tell them about the benefits. If you are a boss, give your team the opportunity to take their “passing lanes” and reap the reward of a team who’s more engaged with a better perspective on the work you’re doing.