Living Life on Cruise Control

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Living Life on Cruise Control

Black Belt Leadership
Living Life on Cruise Control
John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader

I've been teaching one of my daughters to drive, and we recently ventured out onto the bypass to get in some highway driving time. After we made our way up the onramp, merged onto the highway and settled into the flow of traffic, we drove for a few miles before I asked if she was going to use the cruise control.

After talking her through the steps, we finally got the car into cruise mode. As her foot came off the gas and she realized she wasn't going to have to manually manage the gas pedal, the drive settled into a routine. We practiced turning the cruise control off and on a few times, toggling the lever to speed up and slow down. It ended up being a non-eventful ride around town, which is always good when you're learning to drive.

As we talked through what we learned from our time driving, one statement stuck out. When we started talking about activating the cruise control, my daughter said, "It was like the car was on auto-pilot. I didn't have to do much of anything. It was like I was simply along for the ride."
Yes, cruise control makes the driving experience easier. Not having to manually keep your fit on the gas pedal, especially on a long trip, reduces stress and makes the trip less tiring. In a sense, you are almost on auto-pilot and simply along for the ride.

But in life, living life on cruise control can be a bad thing. It's easy to just go through life by default rather than live life with purpose, on purpose, for a purpose. We can (and far too often do) allow the circumstances and situations of life to dictate how we live. Or we can choose to be intentional about living our lives, overcoming circumstances and challenges, to accomplish great things.

We are all creatures of habit, so it is easy to slip into cruise control mode throughout the day. It's easy to do. No thinking is required. It is said that we spend up to 95% of our day essentially on auto-pilot, living life on cruise control, without consciously thinking into our circumstances and situations - simply accepting whatever life brings our way.

In cruise control mode, we don't take action. It's passive. We live life by default and the status quo becomes the norm. When we're on auto-pilot. We are not consciously aware of what is happening, what we are doing, where we are going. It's like driving down the highway only to realize you've been on the road for hours and have no idea where you are and what potentially interesting sites you've failed to notice along the way.

Living life in cruise control mode is also unfocused. It allows you to go down the highway of life without being intentional. As long as you don't need to stop for fuel, eat, or use the bathroom, you can just zone out and keep going. And because it is unfocused, the endless opportunities life presents to us are often overlooked or ignored.

A cruise control life lacks creativity. Why? If life is on auto-pilot, there aren't many problems to solve, opportunities to seize, and dreams to pursue. A cruise control life defaults to doing things the way they've always been done. No creativity required. It's allowing the good enough life of complacency and mediocrity to become the default to living a life of so much more.

It's easy to just go through life by default rather than live life with purpose, on purpose, for a purpose.

Someone living life on cruise control isn't leading in life, they are simply passing through. No energy, no excitement, no passion, no intensity, no curiosity, no reaching for what's next. It is a mindless state of existence where the focus is on simply getting through the day rather than seizing the day and making the most of what it offers you.

When you're driving and engage the cruise control, your speed remains relatively unchanged until you tap the brake, depress the gas pedal, or run out of gas. It's a comfortable, relaxing ride. When we're in cruise control mode, we are the same way. We aren't growing, stretching ourselves to get out of our comfort zone.

Our greatest opportunities to see success are always outside our comfort zone, But we will never seize them unless we slow down, or speed up, and get out of the cruise control mindset where we're comfortable. If we're not uncomfortable, we're not growing, getting better, and becoming a better version of ourselves. Growth is always uncomfortable.

Living life on cruise control limits our potential. It's easy to just go through life by default rather than live life with purpose, on purpose, for a purpose.
Remember, life doesn't have a reverse gear. Life, like the interstate, is one-way traffic. If you mindlessly miss the exit, you've got to keep driving. You can backtrack, but you can't go in reverse. If you're mindlessly going through life in cruise control mode you may drive right past the offramp to your next incredible success opportunity.

The good news is you're in the driver's seat. You're behind the wheel. The brake and gas pedal are at your feet. It is within your power to tap the brake, depress the gas pedal, or simply turn off the cruise control and be intentional about driving your life.

You can live life with purpose, on purpose, for a purpose.

Be an active participant in living your own life.

Don't just go along for the ride.


2X martial arts Hall of Fame inductee, John Terry (The Black Belt Leader) is passionate about helping others become Black Belt Leaders in Life. He is a motivational speaker, leadership, sales & communication coach and trainer.   

Jessie Terry, John's daughter, is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and is actively involved in the JMT Global Youth Initiative. She is also a Real-Life Management trained coach and a certified Women-Safe Self-Defense Instructor.

For more information, schedule John (or Jessie) to speak to your organization or to book a personal, group or corporate coaching session, visit our website at  

If you are a faith-based organization, learn more about John and Jessie's outreach to churches, para-church organizations or faith-based volunteer groups by visiting

John is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and is passionate about helping others pursue excellence as they become "Leaders in Life". He is also a Master Coach & Trainer with Real Life Management, a human behavioral training organization helping people learn how to live "Real Life" and make better choices when it comes to relationships, money, health, and wellness. John is also a certified DISC Human Behavior Consultant.

John's newest book, Black Belt Leadership 101, released as a #1 New Seller on Amazon Kindle. Also available in paperback, this book highlights the 10 essential character traits necessary to live life as a Black Belt Leader in Life.

Why just be a leader, when you can be a Black Belt Leader?

This book includes a Discussion Guide for either your own personal growth and development or to facilitate a group discussion with your Team. Get your copy today.

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