Or what we can learn about collaboration from an old bridge.
Claus, one of my business partners, told me – because he knows that I will spend my spring vacation in France at the Ardèche again – that he can’t wait to see a new Instagram posting of the suspension bridge, because I always post pictures of this bridge when I am there. He is totally right. I can’t help it. I always need to take and
post a picture of this wonderful bridge when I cross it.
I cross this bridge since the late 70ies when I first came to Provence with my parents who had bought a small house in Aiguèze, a beautiful medieval village located on the lower part of the river Ardèche that flows through a mind-blowing canyon.
The question remains: why am I so attracted by this bridge? Of course, it is old and beautiful and one of the few bridges crossing the Ardèche. You have to drive almost one hour to get to next one, therefore the old bridge is heavily frequented, especially in summer during vacation time.
But my deep affection for the narrow bridge comes from something else. It comes from the time when I was a boy. At that time, there were no traffic lights to manage the traffic flow across the bridge. When someone wanted to cross it by car, one had to check if there already was another car on the bridge. Often, two cars tried to cross the bridge from both sides at the same time, followed by other cars, and they eventually met in the middle of the bridge. Believe me, this was always a very special event.
It usually started with a noisy “cacophony” of car horns, followed by people stepping out of their cars, always including some hefty swearing and loud shouting. It was a true happening for all the bystanders who populated the little bar close by in the village of Saint Martin. When the “Pont supendue de St. Martin” was finally filled up with cars from both sides, it even started to shake. This shaky feeling brought the overheated crowd on the bridge quite quickly to their senses and a solution was found. By the way, the solution was dead simple: one side just had to pull back and let the others pass, regardless of who was right or wrong.
So, every time when I cross the bridge to get to the bakery, those memories cross my mind and I regret a little bit that we did not have social media back in those days – these bridge fights would have gone viral for sure.
And ever since the traffic lights were installed in the late 80ies, these events never occurred again – and the bridge has thus lost its educational power.
Because besides all the fun memories, this bridge also taught me three simple but powerful lessons for life:
1. Don’t just cross the bridge when you get there, look ahead!
2. There is no right or wrong. There are only compromises.
3. Great solutions only can be found together.
I could not share the bridge-crossing events, but I can share this story. And I will continue to share pictures of this truly unique – and very wise – bridge.