When to Shift

by Alan Cohen –

While teaching someone how to drive using a stick shift, my student asked me, “How do I know when to shift?” I answered, “You have to listen to the motor and feel it. When it starts to labor, it’s time to shift.”

Hearing myself say those words, I recognized an extremely important lesson for living. When your life starts to labor, it’s time to shift. First gear is designed to get your car going and guide the engine at low levels of revolution. When your car starts to move at higher revolution, first gear is no longer appropriate. You need a different gearing mechanism to take you to higher speeds.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, overworked or overburdened, you are trying to use a lower gear to drive at higher speed. You need to shift paradigms to navigate the next level. Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem at the level of thinking that created it.” The problem is calling you to see, think and act in a new and more effective way. In that sense, the problem is a gift because it is moving you to a new level of living.

Jesus said, “You cannot put new wine in old wineskins. They will burst.” Trying to go to new places with old ways of getting there will leave you frustrated and beleaguered. A higher gear is available to you if you are willing to use it. Then the motor will say, “Ah, that feels a lot better,” and get you where you want and need to go quickly and easily.

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