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June 26, 2017

Don’t Run: What a crack addict can teach you about business.

When you get pulled over, do you run? Or do you (unhappily) take your ticket and keep driving? Well, that depends if you’re on drugs and not thinking clearly.

Last Thursday at 2AM, the officer I was riding with observed a car driving with no lights. We pulled up behind the car, about to tell the driver to turn the lights on, when the driver suddenly stopped and hopped out – running frantically down the street. The officer gave chase (while I shouted encouraging words like, “Go faster!” and “You’re so slow!”) and quickly caught her.

As he was walking her back to his patrol car, he asked why she ran. Her reason? She didn’t have a valid license. Further questions revealed she was addicted to crack and her judgement was clouded. Legal discussions aside, let’s take a realistic look at what could have happened vs. what did happen.

If She Didn’t Run

  • The officer would have pulled up next to her and told her to turn on her lights.
  • She would have smiled and said, “Thank you Officer.”
  • We would have continued on our respective paths.

Because She Ran

  • Her car was towed because she had no license.
  • The officer issued 3 violations that she needs to go to court for.
  • She was super out of breath from running.

What This Can Teach You

Don’t make things worse for yourself without knowing the full picture. Optimists know it’s never as bad as you think it is. Let’s apply this to some familiar situations that happen in business:

  1. A customer calls to complain an order didn’t arrive on time. Instead of launching straight into a “he said/she said” fight, listen to the full story and ask some questions. Maybe the order arrived at the wrong warehouse or wasn’t logged in yet. Stuff happens but you’ll never get to the bottom of it if you don’t listen.
  2. Your secretary didn’t show up for work. You can immediately fire her or you can be rational. Pick up the phone and call her. Find out what’s wrong so you can make an informed decision. People mess up all the time but you shouldn’t be one of them.
  3. A prospect hasn’t gotten your quote. As a salesman, I know how frustrating this is. I also know how frequently it’s the Spam folder’s fault. Call your prospect and have them check that bottomless pit of sales emails, Nigerien princes and mail-order brides.

Recap

When you see those flashing lights in your mirror, don’t jump out of your car. It never makes things easier for you. Similarly, when the proverbial work emergencies kick in, be cool, calm and collected. This will ensure you handle situations with the care they need.

Don’t do drugs, kids.