I had a bunch of meetings in New York yesterday. NYC in summer is filled with tourists (as it is most of the rest of the year) and they’re pretty easy to spot. They are usually found standing still in the middle of the sidewalk, rocks in the midst of the rushing human stream. They’re something you learn to dodge as a native by, as we used to say in hockey, not skating with your head down.
Unfortunately, fewer people seem to do that these days. I witnessed a collision when a native, immersed in their smartphone, ran smack into a tourist taking a picture of the Chrysler Building. That’s become the norm too – people walking the streets in full stride while staring into a 4-inch screen. It made me think of how we tend to do the same thing in business.
Too many business people run their businesses staring at what’s two feet in front of them while ignoring the impediment that’s a hundred feet ahead. They don’t take evasive action because they’re unaware that there is a problem approaching. Instead, they’re way too involved in the present and not in looking ahead.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m as guilty as the next person with respect to checking my mobile device every time it beeps. I try, however, to step to the side while I read and respond. When I’m walking, I’m doing so with my head up and my focus is well in front of me. I do the same in business, both my own and my clients’. What is happening NOW is important but it’s critical not to get too focused on what’s going on right in front of you while missing out on what’s coming up.
Your business needs to skate with its head up. You never know when the path that was clear the last time you looked has become obstructed. Bumping into something you didn’t see can be expensive – the person’s phone crashed to the ground yesterday. Deal with the immediate situation – read your mail, answer your texts – but recognize that there is a rapidly changing world outside of your two-foot gaze. Make sense?