Finding a Balance: Short Term Pain vs. Long Term Gain

Finding a Balance: Short Term Pain vs. Long Term Gain

Trucking is a business of curveballs, everyday you are confronted with new set of variables that didn’t exist when you left the office yesterday, or even ten minutes ago for that matter. It takes a special type of personality to not only handle this daily truth, but also thrive in this environment. For some, this is the exact thing that attracts them to the industry, problem-solving can be an addictive pursuit. Many of the executives and frontline managers that I speak to have admitted that although they are very good at dealing with this rhythm of constant change, it often masks the fact that solving each problem is sacrificing long term gains in productivity, in favor of short term piece of mind. To take the next step as high performance operators and managers, a line needs to be drawn in the sand.

Check out this video from Franklin Covey (4 Disciplines of Execution) on the ‘Whirlwind’:

Instead of Working IN Your Business, Try Working ON Your Business

For many of you, I don’t need to explain the above sentence. You already know how dangerous it can be to be stuck in the constant whirlwind of daily business, professional refereeing and in some cases self-inflicted micro-management; without a chance to come up for air, or consider a new perspective. Some executives that have realized this danger have pursued solitary time to reflect, consider and re-energize. For those of you with a CDL, a common solution is volunteering for the next load. Many do so under the veil of re-connecting with the road, customers and drivers, but my hypothesis is that this is a secondary aim. Getting behind the wheel requires that you disconnect (by law), and gives you time to contemplate, prioritize, and come up with possible strategies to tame the pressure for your answers. As a by-product, disconnecting forces your team to come up with solutions on their own. So in essence, temporarily stepping back from your whirlwind is like compound interest – you come up with new insights, ideas and strategies, while your team is developing without a crutch. Now, if you don’t have a CDL, or you let yours expire, maybe reserving a portion of your day for uninterrupted contemplation and development is in order. It seems to have worked well for Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger and Bill Gates .

Another way executives and managers (even those at the top of their game) can take their organizations to the next level is to get together with like-minded people on a regular basis, with a goal of individual and group development–which ultimately has a positive impact on business. Benjamin Franklin knew the value of this type of endeavor when he and a group of 11 others formed the Junto Club in Philadelphia in 1727. This group sought to—through discussion, debate, and contemplation—improve society and expand the world view of each member. Each meeting was structured to follow a 24 question agenda—which can be grouped into the following questions:

  1. What did you learn since the last meeting?
  2. How did you improve?
  3. Which setbacks did you run into?
  4. Do you need any advice on a personal or professional matter?
  5. Who do you need to be introduced to (outside the group)?

This club was wildly successful, and included not only one of the Founding Fathers, but also a shoe maker. This club was responsible for the creation of the first lending library, the University of Pennsylvania, a volunteer militia and the Union Fire Company. All conceived with perspective from all walks of life.

Many of you in Trucking are already benefiting from similar activities. Active membership in a State, Provincial or Federal Trucking Association, Chamber of Commerce, etc. Others are taking group contemplation to another level via participation in TCA’s Best Practice Group program. Regardless of the avenue you choose, the purpose of this post is to reinforce the value of doing something—other than the status quo. Breaking free from the whirlwind, and choosing to be different.

Many of the companies I speak to daily are anticipating one the most unique (positive) opportunities for Trucking in the last three decades. How are you going to best prepare to take advantage of this opportunity? Hopefully not doing the same as you’ve always done.