If you read my last post you know that I’m home with my dad as he recovers from open heart surgery. I drove home instead of flying and it took just 25 hours.
Yes he is doing ok! He went to the Mayo Clinic for a scheduled mitral valve repair along with some other repairs.
During the long drive home to South Dakota from Las Vegas I stopped for two days in Albuquerque and another in Kansas City. Yes both stops were out of the way and put me back a total of five hours. During the long hours alone I came to different correlations and conclusions between driving trips and business adventures.
1. Begin with the end in mind.
The start of any road trip is just like a business endeavor. To get where you want to go and where you want to be you have to know where that is. You have to imagine it; what it looks like and what it’s going to feel like.
2. Focus on what’s in front of you
Focusing too much on your destination alone can make the trip seem much longer. You must keep it in mind, but also focus on what’s in front of you. All you need to see is the first few hundred feet in front of you to make it all the way to your destination.
I love Ralph Waldo Emerson and think his quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination” applies here. Find a way to enjoy the different scenery along the way and appreciate it. I drove through mountains, plains, hills, and desert. Not all of which I see on a daily basis. I only see one, or two.
Another saying is time flies when you’re having fun. On a road trip or in your business/work its best when you enjoy and have fun doing what you’re doing. It really does make it better and go quicker.
3. Balance your focus
You should focus on what’s around you, but that doesn't mean forgetting where you’re going. So many times in business and life we get sidetracked. We get so caught up with what’s around us we forget the whole reason we’re passing through that spot in the first place.
That’s not to say sometimes your destination will change. But, changing your destination too often can lead you to drive quite a long ways out of the way for what you really want. Find a balance.
4. Getting sidetracked can show you the best things
Taking the scenic route can show you some beautiful things you would have otherwise missed. Obstacles that test you can do the same. Recently I've learned to accept these obstacles because of a principle known as the Nemesis Theory.
The Nemesis Theory states that in order for a hero to know his, or her true strength there must be a nemesis to test them. Sometimes you need the negatives to develop the positives. To take a step back and appreciate all the good things that have gone your way in life compared to the minor bump in the road you’ve come across.
I saw family and met up with a wonderful friend. I experienced a new city and state. All of that fun for a just a few extra hours of travelling. The long journey became much longer, but much more worth it.
5. Nothing goes to plan, and that’s ok
“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
I use this quote frequently with friends, partners, clients, and really anyone. There were certain things along my trip that did not go according to plan. Not even close. I’m still alive.
When things come up and force you to make a change it can be stressful no doubt. I was already a little bit stressed driving for this long, let alone adding let downs along the way. What I realized is that it helped me to enjoy certain parts of the trip more. I changed my route and added an extra two hours to my trip. The extra time wasn’t ideal, but it really helped me to enjoy the destination even more. It also helped me to appreciate what did go right even if it wasn’t part of the main plan.
6. You can’t do everything at once
When you’re in the driver seat, whether it be a car or business, you can multi-task but you can’t do everything at once. I don’t condone it, but I did text and drive at times throughout the journey. I’m still alive. I ate and drove. I’m still alive.
The key was focusing on the task at hand, in my case driving, while putting a little energy into the side tasks I was doing. In a business you want to focus on the major tasks, but sometimes side things come up that need to be attended to simultaneously. The trick is balancing it all so you do not crash and burn which is all too common in business. *approximately 1 in 10 businesses fail within 5 years.
7. You need to pace yourself and take breaks
It’s good to be a go-getter. But as the saying goes it’s better to work smarter, not harder. You can’t drive 25 hours straight alone without stopping, for multiple reasons.
We need sleep, we need breaks. It becomes dangerous driving after being awake for a long time. According to www.drowsydriving.org staying awake for 18 hours straight can cause your motor skills to perform as if you had a blood alcohol content of .08% which is the legal limit for drunk driving in many states.
Your vehicle can’t handle it either. No vehicle I know of can drive that long without stopping to refuel. Also engines can overheat.
Our bodies are a vehicle for us. We need to take a step back and relax every once in a while and sometimes that will allow us to get back to work and perform even better and for longer. Even if it’s a short break it can go a long ways. Think about the last time, or imagine, you worked eight hours plus without a meal and without a break. You can get much more accomplished taking a step back and refocusing on what you’re doing.
8. Spreading yourself thin can get you there faster, but increases risk
This one is like the last lesson and brought me to the next one. You increase your risk for danger when you’re tired and your vehicle is being over used. But with all investing, which is what we’re doing with our time, you have to think about the risks and rewards. When you increase your risk you increase your reward by spending less total time traveling.
9. Everything is a trade based on risks and rewards
The way you spend your time, like money, is an investment. Even for the smallest of things. When it comes to driving and business your decisions are packed full of risks and rewards.
The first principle of investing is high risk, high reward. The higher the risk involved the higher the reward, at least for most investments.
When driving you put yourself into higher risk situations that have the ability to save you time, or increase your reward. Things like eating, or texting while driving increases your risk of getting in an accident, but can reward you by saving valuable time.
The key is managing your risk. Part of managing your risk includes increasing risk now to minimize it in the long run. Doing things like passing, or speeding can increase your risk, but ultimately can make your trip shorter. The shorter your trip the less chances you have of getting in an accident.
10. Take care of your machine and what you put in it
Make sure to maintain your vehicle for the long haul. The same goes for your body, mind, and business.
If you put in bad oil you’re likely to get bad results. If you eat bad foods eventually you’ll have bad effects. If you let bad employees, or bad attitudes into your company you’re going to operate poorly.
11. Things don’t always turn out to be what they seem
Billboards can be misleading. Some say food or gas this exit. Some are old and offer promotions that are no longer valid. After you are on the exit you learn the place is either miles from where you are, or has been closed for years.
People can lead you on and make grand plans only to skip out. Getting involved with these people can put a damper on your attitude when they fail to come through, waste your time, energy, and sometimes even money.
Do your research, use common sense, and go with your gut.
12. Forgetting little things can make a big impact
Locking your door is a small thing. All it takes is a second or two. Not doing it can cause a lot of pain and loss.
My grandfather taught me that locks only keep the honest people out. If someone wants something bad enough they will find a way to get it. If someone wants to steal from you they can break into your car, even if it has an alarm. Leaving your vehicle unlocked makes it so much easier to steal from you and move on.
Forgetting to attribute, or mention where you get information from in your works can lead to legal action. Not including a paragraph in a legal agreement can sink you. In your website leaving out small details can make you look unprofessional and lose you a sale, or ten. The list of small things that make big impacts goes on and on.
13. Make a checklist before you launch/leave
Make a list of the things you want to have, the people you want to be surrounded by, and the feelings you’ll have when you get to your destination. As well as the things that will help you get there.
When staying at a hotel or someone’s house along the way make sure you have all of your stuff when you leave. Sometimes we feel too grown up to make a list, or double check. But, the more you leave behind the more willing you’ll be to do this. This happens when you’ve learned your lesson the hard way. To anybody trekking out on their first journey whether it is a road trip, or business venture. Make a checklist, or description of what your destination will include. Manifest your dreams.
14. When involving other people use signals
When driving down the freeway you’re not really interacting with others. But, when you change lanes you can be in the way of others so you signal with your blinker that you’re changing lanes. When you slow down your brake lights alert the person behind you what you’re doing.
Sometimes people driving will leave their blinker on too long, or turn it on and not change lanes or turn. In life and business people give signals and miss communicate. This can be frustrating. But even more frustrating is doing something that effects other people without letting them know. Like changing lanes in front of someone without using your blinker. Or turning without using your blinker. Or slowing down without brake lights.
15. Sometimes you have to shut off and re-ignite
As mentioned in lesson 7 you can’t reasonably drive 25 hours straight without stopping to refuel. Like vehicles, sometimes we need to shut off - step back - slow down - stop - and take a break. After a break we re-ignite our inspiration, our motivation, and our drive.
Over this trip I was asked how I can handle doing it, especially alone. I explain it in two things. One don’t look at the time. Take in what’s in front of you and enjoy yourself as best as you can. I do the same in my life and business. I don’t count my minutes away ever. I do the tasks in front of me and try to enjoy them as best as I can.
The other is understanding delayed gratification. I know where I want to get to and this is the way to do it. So I suck it up now so I can enjoy myself even more later.
What do you do to help yourself shut off and reignite your engines again? I’m anxious to hear from you.