If there is one thing that has been annoyingly persistent in my life, it has been the presence of speed bumps. They seem to always be in the worst place possible. When I actually need some momentum, I have to slow up to deal with them. When I was younger I tried ignoring them. Having my metaphorical undercarriage scraped and beaten is no treat, so I’ve learned to slow down for them.

When I decided to start my business, I was faced with this dilemma again. I was so zealous to get things moving that I didn’t want to deal with the speed bumps. They were just another pain-in-the-neck obstacle I had to circumnavigate in order to get to where I wanted. I found that I was putting a lot of energy and focus in how I could steer around them (kind of like how we do in parking lot if we can). I have recently had an epiphany, of sorts, that has been a sense of maturing for me.

For those of you who know me, I’m a full tilt kind of guy. I’m passionate, an explorer and revolutionary in nature. I like to do Mach 3 and sort things out on the fly. My brain is a flurry of activity and I have plenty of sleepless nights to show for it. I’ve also put a lot of effort into being self aware, even in the midst of my seemingly frantic thinking. In this process, I have become to embrace the heathen creature we have come to know as the speed bump.

In my discipline of staying aware I have noticed something amazingly valuable for me as an individual, as a leader and as a business owner. These ridiculous speed bumps, or obstacles, do something incredible for us. They afford us the opportunity to pause and consider alternative options.

It can be so easy to be flying high and be “working your plan” (which is necessary) and when the speed bump comes along, we just try to plow over it or get around it. Even the best laid plans can be improved. Most likely the plan was made without some knowledge that may present itself a bit later. Taking the time to pause and consider unforeseen options can be the best friend to your strategy.

The point of the plan was to reach a specific outcome, not to follow a plan. I don’t know about you, but I have much more important things to do in life than to simply follow a plan for the sake of saying I followed it. I want to see results, not provide proof that I can follow some script. Embrace your speed bumps and pause long enough to look around for some unplanned alternatives.

What are some ways in which speed bumps have helped your business strategy?

  • Steve G

    Good Post and a reminder to all of us not only to Slow Down, but also to understand that sometimes you need to “veer” off track to get the desired results. You are right, sometimes, we put more emphasis on the process than on the results.

    This “style” of Leadership (emphasizing the process more than the results) can send mixed signals to those you are leading, and often starts your team second guessing your desire to win. When the focus is on the initiative, and not the result, you are headed for conflict down the road (no pun intended) I have witnessed how corporate initiatives slow down the process, frustrate the team, and put the emphasis on the wrong “thing.” In retrospect, a SPEED BUMP can be a welcome obstacle – but you need leaders to realize it early in the process, and make the necessary detour. (okay, pun intended)

    I believe you hit on the key – it is about SELF AWARENESS. How many leaders get caught up in the process, because it was THEIR plan. Does their ego get in the way? Are they out to prove something?

    Thanks Leadership Advisor for another thoughtful post.

    SPGonz

  • So true Steve. Poorly prioritizing initiative over result is the demise of many great ideas.

    Thanks heaps for your thoughts!

    William