“Stay in Your Lane” is Bad Advice

Matthew Oldridge
2 min readAug 3, 2017

First of all, some of the people telling you to “stay in your lane” aren’t even on the road.

CC Image by Phil Dolby

It’s so much easier to just stay in your lane, and keep driving forward. You might have a job with a narrow set of responsibilities, or you might have roles that you have created for yourself. Your lane is a comfortable place- maintain your speed, even put on cruise control. You don’t ever need to stop, as long as the highway is clear in front of you.

People around you might protect their own “lane”, and try to keep you out of it. Their lane is their turf, as it were. You must never cross into it.

The thing is, “stay in your lane” is bad advice. It’s comfortable, but boring, following the endless straight road in front of you, marked off by the yellow line beside you, and the rumble strip on your other side. (Assuming you are driving in the slow lane as well).

Change lanes once in a while, see what it’s like. Try something. You can only fail.

Here are some famous people who chose not to stay in their lane:

Da Vinci: artist and creator of scientific prototypes.

Nabokov: novelist, and lepidopterist and composer of chess problems.

Tolkien: novelist and specialist in Old and Middle English.

Asimov: published work in 9 out of 10 categories of the Dewey Decimal System.

Bruce Dickinson: singer for Iron Maiden, pilot, businessman, fencer.

My advice is: change lanes today. See what it feels like. There’s no barrier to stop you. Hit the signal, and move over.



Matthew Oldridge

Writing about creativity, books, productivity, education, particularly mathematics, music, and whatever else “catches my mind”. ~Thinking about things~