Life and business don’t always go according to my carefully laid out plans. I enjoy riding motorcycles and had the opportunity to bookend a meeting in Colorado Springs, CO with an 8-day 2500 mile ride from Houston and back a different way. In many ways, the trip was analogous to starting and growing your own business.
First day out, less than 10 minutes from the house, the heavens opened up. It was like God took a 55-gallon drum of water and dumped it on me. Drenched to the skin, I turned around and went back to take advantage of towels and a dryer. Did you have to start out more than once to get your business off the ground? Many of us had a dream that took several “starts” to gain traction.
Once the rain stopped and I had dried out, I hit the road again, now about 10% behind my desired time allotment. Was it God’s way of reminding me who is really in charge? Making a few modifications to my route helped me catch up to my time plan. The next day, I experienced commerce in its full west Texas oil well reality. Highway 287 is mostly a two-lane, very outdated road scrambling to catch up with all the pumping rigs and 18-wheelers that support the effort to extract hydrocarbons in a tough market. East/west interstate roads with multiple lanes ran smoothly as I crossed the state, beginning to work my way north to Colorado. The temptation was always there to take the “easier” interstate route. Have you ever been frustrated enough to entertain the thought of quitting?
Often entrepreneurs are not blessed with high levels of patience. The key for me is to recognize when I am stuck on a two-lane road and wait for my opportunity to pass and move forward.
One of the joys of riding a motorcycle is being on gentle curves, passing under fragrant pine trees and feeling the thermal change as you move between sun and shade, cruising at a comfortable speed with little or no traffic to disturb you. It is almost magical. There are times in my business, especially after periods of “heavy traffic” that business can level out. Life is good! When those occur, I always thank God for His special goodness. The better times help me realize and appreciate those times that challenge my faith. Do you have someone to confide in when things are good—and when they aren’t?
In my work overload to finish up at the office and get ready for my trip, I trusted that the dealer had changed my oil as requested. It had not been done so I found myself in the middle of New Mexico looking for a dealership. I was on the east side of New Mexico when the only dealer was about a day’s ride away in the wrong direction. I forged onward to Las Vegas, NM seeking an oil change. Along the way, I experienced another mechanical challenge resulting from a design flaw. Picture how much wind hits the side mirrors of a motorcycle underway. The right hand mirror tightens itself constantly as I drove into the wind. The left hand mirror loosened constantly as the wind pelted it. I found a garage that loaned me tools and some Loctite to fix the mirror situation. Reverse threads would have solved this on the left mirror. In the meantime, some rough weather was looming on the horizon—colder temps and some hail.
Lessons learned: Allow for unforeseen delays. Surround myself with others who have talents complementary to mine. I don’t have to know how to do it all by myself. Even though when we start out, we have to do it all, over time we should be able to hire or outsource those activities that are better done by others. The combination of the team working in concert, collectively toward the same goal may help eliminate some of these unforeseen obstacles.
Sadly, because of my oil change, mirror repairs and weather delays, I lost six hours. I was unable to enjoy many of the very attractive mountain roads in northeast New Mexico and southern Colorado. I had to get to my conference by moving onto the interstate for the last several hours. Accepting reality and adjusting course as needed are the same as we must do every day in our businesses.
For me, those roads await for another trip!