Choosing How the Ride Will Be

Choosing How the Ride Will Be

Choosing How the Ride Will Be

In 2012, David – a good friend and colleague – had been a professional race car driver so riding with him was different than riding with most other folks. It wasn’t the speed at which he drove, but the way he handled the car that was noticeably different.

When asked about that difference he explained,

Most people let the car drive them. Sometimes they decide to use cruise control, but most of the time their minds simply go on automatic pilot. Rather than consciously drive the car, they let the car pull them along. As a result, it’s easy for them to be blindsided, lose control, or get into trouble. I, on the other hand, am always acutely aware of and connected to my car. I drive it rather than let it drive me. I realize that in most cases I have choices about how the ride will be.”

Interestingly that’s true for our business careers as well; we usually have a choice about how our business “ride” will be.

It’s All About Perspective

Recently I flew into Minneapolis, Minnesota. As we were landing, the pilot said, “The weather in Minneapolis is a refreshing 12 degrees.” Refreshing is hardly the word I would have chosen, but for this pilot the cold was “refreshing”. It always depends on our point of view.

  • How do you approach each day?
  • Are you driving or dreading your day?
  • What are you expecting to happen?

Choices & Decisions

Although you may not often think about it, you have lots of choices about how you will spend your time, structure your priorities, living your commitment to doing quality work or pushing yourself to learn new things. Less obvious but equally important, every day – whether you are conscious of it or not – you make a series of decisions about how you will work with the people around you.

  • Do you look for ways to learn from them, or are you pretty sure that you are more competent and your solutions better?
  • Do you find ways to share information and collaborate to get the best solution, or do you hoard information, believing that information is power?

When you began working, the road to success may have seemed obvious. Perhaps you had been hired because of a particular technical skill or your work ethic. You reasoned therefore that the more you refined your skills and the harder you worked, the more successful you would be.

But then perhaps you got blindsided: you didn’t get the recognition you deserved, the assignment you wanted or the promotion you expected. What happened?

What Went Wrong? (And How to Fix It)

You forgot that the road to business success rests both on technical skill and your ability to work effectively with others. You forgot that you have to invest time in developing strong business relationships that result in better performance. If you’re wondering how to invest in stronger business relationships (and to keep you from getting blindsided), here are some things you might consider:

  1. Listen more. Slowly count to 10 before you share your opinion. If you tend to talk a lot, then count to 20 before you speak.
  2. Take time to get to know more deeply someone you need to work with, but whom you don’t particularly like. Learn what it’s like to walk in their shoes. See if you can find a common ground.
  3. Ask for feedback. Ask several colleagues (the ones most likely to tell you the truth) to suggest one thing you could do to improve your business relationships.
  4. If you are struggling with someone at work over a particular problem, take a moment to consider what – if anything – you may be inadvertently doing that may be causing the very problem you say you want stopped.
  5. Invest in helping others succeed.

In other words, get better at unleashing the power of your relationships in the workplace as well as your personal life. You may be astounded at the difference it makes.

Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous new year –

Photo courtesy of Nate Steiner.

Sallie Sherman is the CEO of S4 Consulting. She is an expert in helping organizational leaders transform the way they approach critical B2B relationships and implement the complex changes needed to manage those relationships as strategic assets. Sallie has written two books.