Look a Little Further Down the Road and Around the Corner
I have been riding motorcycles for a little over 40 years – on road, off road, through trees and sometimes into them (not often, luckily). After a 4 year break, I decided it was time with a new bike to re-sharpen the skills and do an advanced programme for a day with an instructor who would look at what I do and how I ride and give me some skills updates – while my common-sense and experience are probably a little better than they were 40 years back, my reaction times and risk profile are probably a little different.
The day got me thinking about the parallels with the many business owners and leaders we work with day to day with Platform 1.
1. Everything happens faster - the technology and pace has moved on - while I have never really been too far away from bikes, the speed, tyre technology and more importantly the quality of other drives and amount of them has changed. So too have the business tools, channels to market, level and type of competition and ease of market entry.
2. You don’t heal as fast – things break more easily and take longer to heal. Likewise in your own business, a setback may impact your business value at a time where you don’t have the runway left to recover as easily.
One of the best tips I got from the day was getting to look further down the road and around a corner as far as you can – as we get older sometimes our caution levels rise (perhaps because of the first two points above) – we don’t take the right risks but even more so we look at the risk in front of us (poor surface etc) and not down the road and round the corners - by doing that we aren’t focused on where on the road we are going to be. We just look at where we are right now.
The instructor got me to trust my skills, habits and bike and look ahead, letting my subconscious make the short term corrections while I looked ahead further down the road , looking at the big truck, or the gap in the traffic.
So often in established businesses and with experienced long term owners the struggle is getting out of the looking ‘at the road directly in front of your wheel’ and look ahead. Does that investment make good sense next year? Does that new person have the capability to add more value than just gap filling today? Do my systems keep me on the road, so I can look further down and around the corner.
I came back refreshed, in one piece, with fewer nerves when out there the next day.
What helps? – good advisors, who have been down more roads than you, who force you to lift your head up, help build good habits and a clear destination. So look a little further down the road.
Geoff Shaw is a Partner with Platform 1