The Freedom of Roundabouts (329)

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In this episode, I talk about the Freedom of Roundabouts. Strange thought, perhaps, but my take on Roundabouts is that they are examples of freedom and autonomy.  Stick with me here, and I’ll share why.

You won’t want to miss this episode. Enjoy!

Full transcript below.

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The Freedom of Roundabouts (Episode 329)

Thu, Oct 20, 2022 10:11AM • 11:07


roundabouts, traffic, wisconsin, pro shop, turns, podcast, working, digital media, life, learned, green bay packers, jump roping, longer, guess, cloverleaf, seth, e s t, depend, door, people


Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta  00:08

Hey, it’s Mike. And this is the “How’d It Happen?” Podcast, the solo series. So every Friday I do a solo episode. It’s a short solo episode, usually around 10 minutes or so, sometimes longer. And in it, I share something I’ve learned, something I’m curious about, something I have been exposed to, a person that I’ve met and idea that either I’ve come up with or has been presented to me. And I share that with you because I figure that if it interested me, it very well might interest you. 

So today I have a really weird sort of topic. You may find it weird. I’ll call this episode “I Love Roundabouts.” I guess a better way to say this is ”The Freedom of Roundabouts.” The freedom of roundabouts, and why I hate U-turns. So I hope you know what a roundabout is. A roundabout is, I guess the most famous roundabout that I have seen in a movie was in European Vacation. I know I’m going back a long way, but Chevy Chase is in a roundabout, I think in Paris, somewhere in France. And it’s sort of a circular traffic pattern, I guess it’s like an island in the middle of an intersection and you go around it. And the idea is that people come in and go out of the roundabout without the need for stop signs or traffic lights or any other type of control device. In the movie, it’s kind of funny because he can’t figure out how to get out of the roundabout. So he keeps going around and around and around in a circle. But so that’s what a roundabout is. It’s important you know that before we get on to the strange story that I’m going to share with you today. 

So my wife and I and a couple of friends, we were fortunate to go to Green Bay Packers home game at Lambeau Field a couple of weeks ago, and our daughter, who went to school in North Carolina has a friend who moved from North Carolina to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to get his foot in the door with the Green Bay Packers. And he wants to work in their digital media group. And he wants to do digital media for the team. But the door that opened for him initially was working in the pro shop. And he chose to walk through that door and take that opportunity as a way to get started, which I applaud him on, by the way. There’s still this thing in life called working your way up. And I’ve heard some people say, Well, you got to take the stairs, can’t just take the elevator. And this is definitely an example of a young man who is taking the stairs to pursue his dream of working for the Packers and doing digital media. But in the meantime, he’s working in the pro shop, and the pro shop is a very crowded place on game day, but we took a shot. Since we don’t live close by, we took a shot. We went to the pro shop during halftime with the express purpose of meeting Seth and introducing ourselves to him because we had not met him before and we thought it would be cool to go do a little selfie and send it to our daughter, Rachel. And so we asked him about his experience with Wisconsin. And the first thing he said, because you expect people to say, coming from North Carolina, you expect people to say the weather first and then maybe go on from there. But he said there are a lot of roundabouts here. And it was an interesting observation. Because it’s true. It’s true.

When we moved to Wisconsin from Pennsylvania in 1990, I don’t know if there were any traffic roundabouts here. And I hadn’t seen many in my life except, well it’s similar to what a freeway like a cloverleaf freeway exit looks like from the air, but they’re not exactly the same. But anyway, fast forward 30-plus years and they’re everywhere you look here in Wisconsin, and I didn’t like them much at first because it felt to me like everything else was working just fine, you know. And when you first enter a roundabout it’s a little like jumping rope as a kid, you know, when you got a person on either end of the rope and they’re turning the rope and you have to time sort of when to jump in, and then you have to time you know, kind of when to jump out. So it’s kind of looks a little bit like that you have to time your way in and you have to time your way out. I think it’s a little easier than jump roping, especially double-Dutch jump-roping. I think it’s easier. But you know, the more you go through roundabouts, the more they grow on you, at least they have on me. So more times than not, they keep traffic moving, like seamlessly. And there are no timed or arbitrary traffic light interruptions, they’re light on stop and heavy on go. That’s how I think about them, light on light on stop and heavy on go,  a roundabout to trust drivers to predictably and safely go with the flow. You just go with the flow. And yeah, it’s probably a strange metaphor, but I’ve come to think about roundabouts as examples of freedom and autonomy. And I love freedom and autonomy. So true, they take up a lot of room, that’s a lot of room to put them in more than you need for a four-way traffic light, for example. So they are not practical everywhere, but where the room exists, and you can reasonably depend on the drivers to, you know, play by the rules, which you can’t really do everywhere these days. Roundabouts work marvelously. 

So since Seth made that roundabout observation, I’ve been wondering, where in my life, where in my business, where in my coaching? can I remove obstacles and unnecessary stops and replace them with more roundabouts? More freedom, more autonomy, and more opportunity for everyone? And I used to think about, you know, I used to think about U-turns as, like the things I always wanted to eliminate, and I still do I want to eliminate U-turns in life, U-turns in business. U-turns in coaching, because U-turns, which is another type of traffic thing, is sometimes helpful when you’ve missed your stop or whatever, and you’re like, Oh, crap, I gotta turn around, you know, you do a U-turn and you know, get back to where you want to go. But when I think about U-turns in life and in business and leadership, I think about having to repeat something that you’ve already done. So the lesson wasn’t learned. And you need a U-turn in order to start over and learn the lesson that you should have learned before; it’s completely nonproductive. Roundabouts, on the other hand, thanks to Seth who got me thinking about them, roundabouts, on the other hand, are not that at all. They are the way to let people move, grow. Be autonomous, do the right thing, be trusted, all the things that boy, you know, just I don’t know, I guess light up and, what’s the word I’m thinking of, allow for expression. They basically give you permission to keep moving forward. Even if you have to do a little bit of a jog-around in order to move forward through the roundabout. So okay, a little weird today. Maybe a weird metaphor had some meaning to me. I hope it’s had some meaning to you. If it has, please leave me a review. Shoot me a note. If you are not yet a subscriber to the podcast please consider going on Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts and hit the Follow button or the subscribe button depending on which platform you’re using; the podcast is everywhere, so you can find it wherever you want. If you learned something from this, you got something interesting. Like what was interesting in it or funny or strange. Pass it along share it. You can also see it. So I encourage you to check my website out. It’s And subscribe to my newsletter. Every week I send out something neat every Thursday. Short, it’s thoughtful. It’s, I think it’s interesting. But you tell me. Yeah, and until next Friday, or next Monday, where I will have a great conversation in longer form, maybe an hour or so with a very successful person about how it happened for them and, more importantly, why it matters to you. So there’ll be something there for you to learn from something to be interested in. And until next time, maximize your greatness.

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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