Climbing the Hill

How having someone to give you a fresh perspective can improve your relationships and your business.

Recently, I was leading a trail run in Moab, Utah, and came to the first difficult part of the 4×4 rail. The Jeep I was driving had been set up with the best equipment that money could buy, complete with 40-inch tires, Dana 60 Differentials, coil overs and all the gear that goes along with running a tire this big.

I had plenty of confidence that I had already verified that the Jeep was in 4WD and the lockers were engaged to make sure that I would make it. However, no matter which trail I took, I couldn’t climb the hill.

After a couple of tries and some teasing from buddies on the CB radio, my friend, who owns the Jeep, offered to get out and spot for me to help me get up the hill. I declined the offer because I knew that, if I continued to try, the Jeep and I would be successful.

However, after numerous failed attempts, my friend jumped out and noticed that the front axle wasn’t working. Despite my confidence, I had forgotten to engage the lockout hubs. Ooops! My friend and I the engaged the lockout hubs, and soon the Jeep was climbing the hill without even spinning a tire. It’s amazing what you can do when you actually engage 4WD!

This incident reminded me how important it is to have someone on your side with a fresh perspective. A few years ago, we hired a business coach at the shop to help us grow the business. I was surprised by how often my coach would point out things I had missed.

A great example of this was how I was handling my employees. After having yet another employee quit, my coach asked me a few pointed questions that made me doubt my management style. I always thought I was a great communicator and that the problem was with the other person. But it started me on a journey that changed my view of employees and people in general.

I read books, listened to audio books, attended seminars and worked with my coach to improve my people skills. I even programmed reminders into my smartphone during the day to remind me to “respect others” and “add value.” I now find my personal relationships are much more fulfilling, and I really enjoy the friendships I have with my shop team.

I recently overheard a couple of my guys talking about how this was the best company they’d ever worked for and that they felt cared for. And I really do care about them. Am I perfect at it? No, but I am better at it and constantly working at being the best that I can be.

Sometimes, all we need to improve our business and our relationships are an open mind, a good coach, or friend, and the willingness to accept that we sometimes don’t have all the answers. Or maybe just to make another attempt to climb the 4×4 trail, this time – with a full throttle and my trusty spotter, of course.