As many of you know I do quite a bit of traveling for my job and this includes hours of driving on the interstates. I can’t count the number of times I have been thankful for the invention of cruise control, probably just as many times as I have cursed it when the flow of traffic continues to speed up and slow down. You have to wonder, are there that many people that don’t know how to use the cruise control feature? After all if everyone would just set the cruise control to the speed they want to go, traffic would flow much more smoothly. However, it wasn’t until last week that I realized how dangerous this feature can be.
As I traveled back to Tampa, I had set the cruise control at 70 MPH. I was getting to the point of extreme frustration with cars that would pass me then slow down so that I had to pass them. After this continuous battle back and forth for nearly an hour I decided to back the cruise control down to 65 MPH and just let everyone pass me. I turned on the radio and started to listen to an audio book to get my mind off the events that had me so stressed out.
As I listened to the book, chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, the miles seemed to just start flying by. I was becoming more and more relaxed and had long since forgotten the past frustrations. I started to yawn in succession but told myself that I wasn’t tired. My eyelids told me a different story as they continued to get heavier and heavier. At this point I knew I needed to stop and walk around a bit to get the blood flowing again. However, I wasn’t going to get off the interstate. I knew better than to pull off to the side of the road on an interstate and convinced myself to wait until the next rest stop.
As I continued pushing on, every blue information sign I saw was like a water mirage in the desert. I kept thinking when am I going to get to the next rest stop? Suddenly, I heard the thumping of the uneven road on the shoulder lane of the highway (you know, those annoying bumps to keep people from falling asleep at the wheel) and jumped up in my seat, then swerved back onto the road. I had dozed off. While it was literally only for a second, it was one second too long. At that point the adrenaline rush was enough to keep me awake for the next month. What could have gone terribly wrong turned out to be a wakeup call in poor judgment. Next time I will be sure to get off the highway as soon as I start the yawning.
So what the does my poor driving decision have to do with business? Once I composed myself and continued on the trip home I couldn’t help but start applying the lesson I’d just learned to business, after all, I have sort of a sick obsession with that, as most of you already know. How many of us are set on cruise control at work? How many of us have become complacent in our position and just think that all we need to do is show up for work and do what we have always done? I am afraid that many people get stuck on cruise control, not only at work, but in life as well. After all it is easy to do. The problem is there are dangers associated with falling asleep at the wheel, even if only for a second.
What are some signs that you may be on cruise control at work or in life? Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you look for the easiest solution to avoid conflict or controversy?
2. Do you stay away from activities that make you feel uncomfortable?
3. Do you find yourself looking for things to do, or reorganizing things just to keep busy?
4. Do you have open time on your calendar?
5. Do you find yourself looking forward to going home?
6. Are you watching more TV or spending more time playing video games or on social media sites?
7. Do you allow others to perform tasks that you know are your responsibility?
8. Do you avoid networking events or customer visits?
These are just a few indicators that you may be set on cruise control and if you are, turn it off and get back into the driver’s seat! If you are not constantly driving business and dominating your market then you are setting yourself up for a disastrous chain of events. In business, as well as in life, if you are not a little uncomfortable, then you are not growing and if you are not growing, then you are dying.
Today’s market is all about who is hungry, motivated, and constantly looking for better, faster, more impactful ways to provide the products and services that customers need. The companies that will be successful are the ones that are on the cutting edge of technology and products that serve their industry. You cannot afford to be set on cruise control, if you doze off, even if it’s only for one second; that could be the difference between life and death for your company.