Andrew Penny, February 26 2019

I Hate Waiting for People When I Ski  

I hate waiting for people when I ski. Well maybe hate is a strong word, but waiting does break my flow. My friend Andrew (yeah same name as me) is a fabulous skier - a Level 3 Certified Ski Instructor no less. And for those of you who don’t know about skiing, that’s pretty close to godliness. (Level 4s are the real gods – at least they think so...).  

So how is that when I went skiing with Andrew he’d be moving slowly and steadily down the hill while I went ripping by. Something wasn’t adding up.  On one particular day I watched him flowing smoothly down the hill. Turn after turn – sweet. But then watch out! He’s skiing right into the path of a grooming machine coming up the hill! Near miss!

 “So Andrew”, I asked, “what the  …?  You almost hit that thing”. 

“I didn’t see it” he replies. 

“No way… How could you not see it?” Hmm.  

Then he adds “I don’t feel safe going much faster”.  How can that be?

 Then it occurred to me that as a conscientious ski instructor he was focussing on getting his skis to perform at 100% efficiency and was watching them very closely.  And by watching them closely, he had taken his eyes off the rest of the hill, so he couldn’t see far enough downhill to anticipate the bumps and challenges (like grooming machines).  He was skiing slowly to compensate for this and couldn’t let his skis run and accelerate.

 I meet a lot of business owners who are hyper-focussed on the day-to-day. They monitor and measure everything.  But they are so focussed on today they don’t look out 1 year, 3 years or even 10 years. With this near sighted approach, they can’t see the inevitable threats and opportunities coming their way until it is too late to do anything about them. This makes them risk averse because – who knows what’s coming up?

 So What?   Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely necessary to manage the day-to-day efficiency of your business. But it is also necessary, for accelerated success, to be looking way out in front. Do you have a well understood core purpose for your business (the very long view)?  Do you sketch out a high-level three-year plan? Do you make use of ‘outsiders’ who can give you a different perspective on your business and the future? All these activities will help you to look up and be ready to make the best of what’s inevitably coming at you. And they will help you to accelerate with confidence.

 And Andrew?  He’s looking up when he skis now. He can see the terrain ahead and adapt to it. And now he is as fast as stink. I can’t catch him – so now he’s waiting for me! I hate that even more.

 Try This.  Reflect on your last week, and maybe how your week ahead is going to pan out: are you looking down at your skis, and all the here and now stuff?  Have you got a clear vision (in your head) of what your world will look like in 1, 3, 5 years time?   And have you got yourself organized to get there?  If you’d like some additional insights based on my experience with hundreds of companies – send me an e-mail to set up a call to discuss.

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Andrew Penny

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