Unlike most people I began driving when I was around 13. Yes.13. I grew up in a rural area with dirt roads and every week I would get the opportunity to drive our 1940 Chevrolet pickup to the dump nearby to drop off trash. It was one of the highlights of my week.
While learning to drive my father told me something that I have carried with me in many situations, “If you look at the ditch, you go in the ditch”. Later in life while learning to drive cars on race tracks at the highest rate of speed possible, the instructors would continue to push you to not look right in front of the car. Rather, you would look ahead of you. Turning into a curve you would look through the corner to the line that you wanted to take.
This singular idea of looking where you want to go is a lesson that I have taken with me throughout business. When starting a project, I will set out to lay down a goal or a target that will remain my guiding light throughout the project lifecycle.
When problems arise, I would rely on that goal to fix my gaze and ensure that we move to completion and don’t get stuck in the ditch.Often a client or other outside influence would try to grab the attention of those involved and the project would begin to drift off the road and head for the ditch. The drift is not intentional but on projects that can last months or years it is normal for people to get distracted and forget the main goal of the project.
Pulling back from projects to a broader company vision and encouraging people to that vision, it is necessary to keep everyone looking ahead to the future goals. Looking at the ditch will discourage people and can derail the core focus of the company. A follow up to getting everyone to look down the road and not the ditch is to keep the car moving past the ditch and on to the next stop. Moving too slowly and not seeing achievements will leave people looking at the ditch and the company will wind there.
One final thought on this crazy analogy of mine, looking at the ditch is contagious. Often called rubber necking, looking at the one who went in the ditch first will slow traffic and often cause more people to windup on the side of the road. Keep on moving. While we can learn from those in the ditch, we don’t need to follow their lead and wind up in the same situation. Keep moving, nothing to see here.
In rough times it is easy to look at the ditch. Easy to look at shrinking markets, hardware failing, design flaws, or even dwindling funds in the account. But, you have to look ahead toward the line you want to drive.Look to that goal and stop looking at the ditch or you’ll wind up stuck there as your competition flies by you.
Ransom Notice is built to move projects through to completion
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