I try to keep fit by cycling 3 times per week. I live so close to a forest that in 20 seconds I am one with nature. If I’m lucky, I will occasionally see a deer from a distance or even family of wild boar and of course a whole bunch of street dogs.
There is one stretch of my cycle routine I now call the gauntlet. It’s a long narrow space where I can’t fully see what’s coming up and this is where the street dogs greet me. My first experience was eventful. As these street dogs caught me by complete surprise, I felt this cold flash starting from the back of my spine all the way to the back of my head sort of the fear that can dogs smell. Pretty ironic for a dog lover but I can tell you that the fear although automatic, was real even though I did not want to show it.
As they surprised me I then got into survival mode and I did what comes natural: I pedal faster.
I’m thinking, ‘I can do this’ so I start to pedal even faster as they start catching up to me. Two of the 6 dogs gave up, then 2 more and even with the last two on my tail (pardon the pun) I am pedaling even faster. By this time I am feeling like Lance Armstrong trying to win another Tour de France or dodging the anti-doping officials, depending on when you read about Armstrong.
Then I think Uh-oh. I need to come back through this gauntlet to get home. Turns out they were too busy looking for breakfast and did not want to wait for me. The next trip I gave the dogs some food while moving like a ‘bat out of hell’ and that did not work either.
The last time I was pursued something unusual happened. As I saw them running after me (showing teeth and not being too friendly) I slowed down to offer them some food. What happens? They run away! It seems that as I stopped pedaling and became a pedestrian, it was their turn to be scared.
I had done the complete opposite of what I thought was the solution and it worked!
Business is like that too.
How many times does this happen to you when you are trying to finish a project, or you are dealing with a difficult peer or boss or you are trying to close a deal before a deadline? What do you do in these circumstances ? You pedal faster. You do what comes natural to you thinking this is the solution.
Try doing the complete opposite.
Ask yourself; are the project and its direction really the best for you or your organization?
Instead of fighting or avoiding a peer…listen, process and then reply, as opposed to mixing up this order.
Is this deal good for all parties? Sometimes ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’.
We all get caught up so much in what we do or what is keeping us busy that we miss the obvious. We never really pause, process and say to ourselves… what if I did a complete 180 degrees on this product, project or sales call? It may very well be what the business needs. Sometimes obvious is not obvious enough.
Sometimes, it’s worth stopping, stepping back, slowing down and re-assess if you are following the best route and ponder…what if I did this differently? In fact ask your boss: What if we could do this differently?
How will you know if you don’t try? It takes courage to stop and re-assess.
Like in my case, you may be surprised to find out that to pedal faster is not always the solution.