I have a 2004 Hyundai Sonata with a couple of superpowers: one is an after-market Bluetooth radio that allows me to beam music and podcasts from my phone to my car’s speakers by complete magic (I call it magic because I have no idea how it works). The other is a remote starter button on the keychain. The guy who sold me the car had made those two improvements, and if I’m being honest those features had more influence in my buying decision than gas mileage, body style, or the odometer reading.
It doesn’t matter to me that several years after the purchase, I’m just a few weeks shy of 200,000 miles. Never mind the fact that the floor mats have endured rain and snow and mud and kids and now look like a few cats gave birth on them. Never mind that the aforementioned remote starter button sits next to a door clicker that will only unlock my door, but not actually lock it. Never mind that my heat and air conditioning will only work on settings one and two, never three, and only four if you really fiddle with the dial. I gladly overlook all of those first world problems because on mornings like this in seasons like this, I can press a button while sitting in my living room, and five minutes later, I sit down in a toasty car and take off for work.
Except when my remote starter starts the car and I didn’t mean for the car to be started. That happens from time to time, as well. I’ll walk by the front door and realize my parking lights are on and fumes are coming out of the exhaust, only I’m not going anywhere. Kids or co-workers have alerted me before that my car is running. Sometimes in the balancing act of arriving at work and grabbing my coffee cup and computer bag and (sigh) manually locking my door and fumbling for my key to get into the office, I’ll hear my car crank behind me because I’ve accidentally hit that infernal button.
It’s not that I hate the button, of course. I love the button. I just hate it when the button gets pressed in my pocket or by a wayward thumb and I didn’t mean for it to. I don’t like the idea of my car idling aimlessly for ten minutes in the driveway before it shuts itself off, because that’s ten minutes worth of gas that it’s burning, and I’m not even experiencing the benefit from it.
Remote starters are great when they burn gas and you mean to use them; not so great when they burn gas without any benefit to you.
Perhaps you see where I’m going with this.
Sorry. Let’s get to the point, then.
I fear that for so many of us, we keep those proverbial remote starters in our pockets on a regular basis. Much of the time they are at rest, and they are fine. Occasionally, however, they inadvertently fire off a signal and crank a vehicle and burn some gas, and we neither know it nor benefit from it. While it’s costing us something, we sit blissfully unaware at the energy that’s being wasted just a few dozen feet away.
It’s the team member who isn’t performing at their peak, yet we’re afraid to challenge them with a conversation.
It’s the project that we keep putting off, hoping it’ll take care of itself, yet it’s looming in the background and sapping emotional strength.
It’s the task we’ve taken on that we’re neither good at or gifted for, but we still suffer through it because it’s easier than giving someone else the responsibility.
It’s the vacation we know we need to go on but we won’t, the class we know we need to take but we don’t, the hobby we need to pick up or the discipline we need to develop but we put it off, because now is not a good time.
And all the while, fuel is burning and resources are draining and we’re not gleaning any benefits from it.
From time to time I have to look at the remote buttons in my life: those things that get pressed without me knowing it and burn energy that doesn’t take me anywhere. I need all the intentional energy I can grab in order to take care of the things that really matter. I don’t do myself or my family or anyone else any good by accidentally burning off fuel. Maybe you’re in that same situation. Maybe there are some remote starters lodged in your pocket that are getting pressed and you don’t even know it.
What is burning without benefit in your world today?