Have you ever driven home or to work only to arrive and not remember how you got there? You recall getting in your vehicle and starting the engine, but after that—nothing. You did what you’ve always done to get from point A to point B, but you did it on automatic pilot with your mind somewhere else.
Scary, isn’t it? When you sit back and think about it, you were so involved in your routine and had something else so on your mind that you automatically allowed “the way you’ve always done it” to take over. It worked because you arrived. You went once again from point A to point B. You are all in one piece. Everything turned out just fine. No harm done, right? “Automatic pilot” was okay. Doing what you’ve always done worked just fine.
Where Were You Going To?
It really did. How do you know? Now think about this. What if you weren’t supposed to go from point A to point B? What if you were meant to go to point Q? What if point Q was picking up your child from school, meeting your boss’ plane, or perhaps attending an important client meeting? What if you just did what you’ve always done and missed a chance of a lifetime? What if you did what you’ve always done and caused an accident? Say you drove through an intersection without stopping when you should have stopped. You came through unscathed, but left total chaos and crashing cars behind you. No one got your license plate or knows it was you, but it was, and you don’t even know it. The accident happened because you were on automatic pilot.
Sometimes doing what you’ve always done seems to work. After all, you don’t know what the alternative results could have been. You only know what is. On the other hand, we do know that while the past is a predictor of the future, it is no guarantee of what is going to happen.
Doing what you’ve always done doesn’t mean things will get you great results. It doesn’t mean even arriving at the same destination without casualties. Things might look okay on the surface, but there may be things that catch up with you later.
No one—especially businesses—can continue to do things the same way and expect to get the same results. Everything is changing. Competition is evolving. The marketplace is more and more complex. Customers expect more choices, value, and results. Doing the same thing will inevitably mean you are left behind, because everyone else is going to evolve. To keep pace, you have to change and change wisely.
Do something different. Consciously act to get different results. Do you get in your car with no idea of where you want to go? Do you always go from point A to point B? Do you live life on automatic pilot? You are aware of your destination, route, environment, and other factors when driving your car. Be just as aware when you are running your business.
Turning off the Automatic Pilot
Your business has been cruising along, getting great results and things are running smoothly. Profits are good. Your people know what they are doing. Automatic pilot is engaged. It is time to turn off the automatic pilot and take hold of the controls. Why? Here are just a few reasons:
- There are dangerous curves ahead: competition is increasing
- The fuel light is on: capital requirements need to be assessed
- The road surface is uneven: the economy is fluctuating, including interest rates, foreign exchange rates; there are resource price increases
- The speed limit is changing: there are downward pricing pressures
- There are road closures and detours: market changes
The driver that continues a road trip on automatic pilot after getting into the journey and reading the road signs and getting more warning lights is pushing his luck. When the road signs warn of dangerous curves, to reduce speed, that the road surface is uneven, and the driver doesn’t choose to take the wheel and be in control, the results seem to be almost inevitable and bad. The same can be said for a business. Take the wheel and take control when the signs are there that things are changing inside or outside the business. Automatic pilot won’t be enough to prevent a bad result.
Copyright ©2008 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.