What We Can Learn from Bad Drivers
I work from our office most of the time, and have a highway drive each morning and evening. Nearly all of it is on a U.S. highway that has been under a major expansion project the past few years. After enduring several months of patched-up single-lane fun, the new smooth-as-silk six lane highway is a thing of beauty.
That said, with the nice new highway, there are still plenty of people who do not understand some basic driving etiquette. Or common sense—depending on which way you put it. After having an especially trying excursion to the office recently, some parallels between the day-to-day drive and what we run into professionally came to light.
Road Challenge 1: Distracted drivers
While distracted drivers are purported to cause more highway accidents than pretty much everything else combined, we experience them every day. Seeing drivers ahead swerve over lines or pulling in and out of traffic at erratic speeds is scary, and frustrating. Some may not be mindful that they're at the wheel of a massive weapon of destruction.
In our industry, we do have some distracted drivers who can hurt the rest of us. While selling simply on price hurts those professionals who are creative and truly care about helping their customers succeed, the killing risk is the obliteration of product safety concerns. We've all heard how important it is to work with products applicable to our customers' initiatives and that have passed specific tests. The next time you're on the highway and see that distracted driver careening toward other cars on the highway, make a mental note to revisit the growing amount of online product safety and compliance information available from PPAI and related sources.
Road Challenge 2: Slow drivers in the fast lane
The left lane is known as "the fast lane." There are signs across the country that tell slower drivers to use the right lane. There are even minimum speeds. However, there may be a school of thought that says a driver can simply park in the left lane and cruise down the road, regardless of how much slower than the speed limit they are driving. Banning drivers who feel that way from the highway isn't currently an option, however it's tough to get your point across when you are trying to be a responsible driver, passing them in the right lane with a gritted-teeth smile, resisting the urge to communicate via the use of gestures.
The takeaway here is to be mindful of what's going on around you. Are you being left behind by new trends, using new marketing channels and targeted technology? Is how you're selling to your customers relevant to what they want? Do you spend more time talking at them than listening to them and what they want to achieve?
Road Challenge 3: Overly confident drivers
This type of driver isn't distracted; they are very focused. Focused on getting to their destination faster than anyone else. They pass drivers only to cut them off because they need to switch lanes to avoid rear-ending a semi. Those of you who drive in snow or ice during the winter months also experience the "I have a four-wheel drive and am Superman (or woman), even on ice" driver. If you live in a warm climate and havn't seen this, understand that no one has an advantage driving on glare ice, especially those speeding down the highway, then slamming their brakes. They are the people we Northerners see further down the highway stuck in a snowy ditch, waiting for the tow-truck to pull them out. Sometimes, we even resist the urge to laugh at their silliness.
Our industry is full of driven professionals. It's at the heart of what makes it successful. Many industry businesses are growing and thriving. Having the experience of learning some things the hard way in the last recession can help us be better at what we do, and work smarter. Forgetting these hard-taught lessons and becoming overly confident drivers could hurt us down the road.
You don't always have to drive in the fast lane. Give yourself a break sometimes.