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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Get Behind the Wheel

A large portion of my job is hauling equipment with a truck and trailer. It's not uncommon for me to spend 4-6 hours a day driving.

My truck, trailer and machine at work

I've learned there is a lot about driving truck that can be applied to business and leadership.

Allow me to explain:

Look Ahead

Semi's are big, and they weigh A LOT when loaded. My weight is usually around 85,000 lbs. You can't stop over 40 tons like you can stop a little family sedan.

When you drive truck you've got to look a long ways ahead of you. You have to know where to turn, what lane to be in, what traffic is doing, what stop lights are doing, and a million other things.

Likewise, in leadership and business, we can't look at only what is happening now. We've gotta keep an eye on what's going down the road. If we fail to look and plan ahead, sooner or later the full weight of our business will crash and burn. Plan ahead.

Look Behind

As important as looking ahead is looking behind you. Watching what's behind you helps you plan as well. It's important to see that little sports car coming up quick in the other lane, or the idiot in the 4x4 that is so close to your trailer you think you're actually towing him.

In business, looking behind you and recognizing mistakes or areas for adjustment will also help you avoid a future crash.

Accept Help

Fun fact: Next time you're on the interstate watch for this:

When one semi passes another, the semi being passed will often either hit his high beams, or turn his headlights on and off to let the other semi know he is clear to move back into the right lane.

Driving a truck and trailer makes it difficult sometimes to judge when the tail end of your trailer is past the truck you're passing. This gesture is extremely helpful!

As a "thank you" you will see the truck that has just passed flip on his hazard lights, or turn his clearance lights on and off a couple times.

These are nearly universal signs used by upwards of 90% of trucks.

As we travel down the road in our business take notice of the suggestions and insights of others. They often have a different view than you do that will help you avoid misjudging a situation that could cost you a lot of time, money and frustration.

Take the Wheel

So next time you're driving and you see one of those asphalt cowboys, take notes! They just might teach you something that'll lead to a huge payload in your leadership!

Question: What can you learn about leadership from your commute and/or travel?

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  1. Love how you used trucking in this post. My dad is a truck driver and I've learned so much from him just in the courtesy that truckers give each other.

    Looking behind is something I always forget to do when it comes to work and something I need to continue to work on. It's easy to just get focused on the goal ahead and not realize that it is sometimes the lessons you learned in the past, good or bad, that will help you get where you want to go.

  2. I drive about 12 minutes across town. In little traffic. To an office where I work by myself. I'm usually on the phone. I don't learn a whole bunch. :) haha

    Occasionally I get to not be on the phone and listen to something educational though. Then I learn.

    I like the analogies for you though, especially about the lights. I have seen that many times and it reminds me that although one of them works for Wal-Mart and the other one for Kroger, neither of them has any interest in crashing that day. There are times to be competitive and times to work cooperatively.

  3. Wow. Like this post a lot. I've been off the blogosphere for two weeks and I'm having a hard time getting back to it. Very good analogy of how we don't know the load others are carrying, literally. It has reminded me I need to look ahead... way ahead and not react to what is going to happen in the next 24 hours. Thanks!!