By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to enhance your concentration. Reading time: 3:35.
Imagine the boring routine of it all, driving over the same 170-mile stretch day in and day out! Now compound that Mile Monotony over a 30-years and three million miles! Oh, the pain! I can feel the excruciating pain right now. The pain piercing my eyes like so many arrows from that endless stream of white lines PAINted on the road. Mile, after mile, after mile.
And despite that hypnotic trance of the highway you perform flawlessly: Accident free. For 30 years. Over three million miles!
How do you conquer that hypnotic trance of the highway that too often deepens drowsiness and kills truck drivers as the leading cause of highway accidents?
How do you drive the equivalent of six trips to the moon and back– accident free?
I had to know the day I got into the 18 wheeler with Al who had just been named the American Trucking Association’s National Driver of the Year.
As a Road Warrior Extraordinaire, Al taught me a lesson in leadership that day – a lesson I think about every time I’m struggling through what seems to me a routine, ordinary task filled with more yawns than awes.
You know the deal. You’ve been booked into back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings. Now you’re headed to your fourth meeting of the day or you’re getting set to interview the sixth candidate of the day for a job opening. Blah, Blah, Blah.
You Can’t Get Bored If You Focus On The Why
Al, doesn’t the routine of it all get to you? Al laughed. It was as if the concept had never even entered his mind until I mentioned it. “It’s never routine. You can’t get bored when you think of ‘ the why’ you’re doing what you are doing,” Al stated flatly before climbing up on his proverbial customer soap box.
“I’m not just delivering office furniture to a customer. I’m investing in his or her business. The furniture will help his or her company become even more profitable and that means that customer will more likely buy again from us and in effect pay my salary.”
But you can’t rationalize away the routine of it all that has to be numbing. After all the road is the same road you have been over two or three trips a day. You must know by heart every billboard along that 170-mile route.
Road Warrior Al stopped me right there –Pshhhhhh!–with all the theatrics of air exploding out of his power brakes. Pshhhhhh! Hold on there, his body language told me before I heard him erupt:
I have never seen the same thing twice
“I have never seen the same thing twice no matter how many times I’ve been down the same road,” said Al who has driven the same route from Grand Rapids, Michigan to or through Chicago more than 2,000 times in his career. “The key is to always be looking for something different, to expect something new. My head is like on a swivel. I am looking at the mirrors, looking at the road, looking everywhere, staying alert, thinking of that customer and how important it is that I keep performing to meet my promise.” And purpose.
Al’s lesson was clear to me. Become a bobblehead to get ahead. No matter how consistent you move a bobblehead it always responds with a slightly different movement. And in bobbling differently, bobbleheads get to see old things in new ways.
That’s what leaders do. They see old things in new ways. They find the extraordinary in the ordinary. And like a bobblehead, they are willing and able to stick their heads if not their necks— out—and around–and up and down.
And those bobbleheads always bounce back. No matter how long and lonely the road ahead.
Stay vigilant to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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