Leaders Know How to Push Hard

Gerwig 2016-07-08

Last week I mentioned that we drove almost 2,800 miles across the United States in a Toyota Prius to drop off my daughter at college. We drove from Connecticut to Arizona via New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico. It was an epic road trip for a number of reasons. One of those was that we drove it in less than 3 days.

We left early Thursday morning to beat traffic in the New York City metropolitan area, but stopped in Lexington, Kentucky because we were dropping off a family friend who had come to visit us in Connecticut. She lives in Lexington. We also had a required appointment in Lexington early on Friday morning (so it was a natural stopping point). It was a relatively easy drive. We arrived in Lexington about 6pm, met some friends for dinner and went to bed early.

On Friday morning, we ate breakfast, went to our appointment, and left Lexington. It was still early in the day. Many hours later (almost 2am Saturday) we pulled into a hotel in Amarillo, Texas to sleep for a few hours before driving the rest of the way into Phoenix, Arizona. We drove almost 45% of the trip on Friday, Day #2. Day #3, Saturday, was easy. We slept in a bit, grabbed a bite to eat and arrived in Phoenix about 6:30pm. We ate dinner, visited with family, and went to bed (early!).

Our initial “plan” was to drive to Lexington on Day #1 and then see how things went on Day #2. We had anticipated that we would take 4 days to drive across the country but as we drove through Nashville and Memphis, we decided to “push hard” and get to Amarillo so we could arrive in Phoenix on Saturday evening instead of Sunday afternoon.

We took turns driving, ate meals in the car, and pushed hard. We also made a reservation in Amarillo as soon as we changed our plans. And it’s a good thing we did! Most of the hotels, including ours, sold out that night. Partly because there’s not much on either side of Amarillo and partly because we were close to a small, regional airport. Learning: make you reservation early in Amarillo!

Now, I know what some of you (the “planners”) are saying. You’re saying that we should have developed our plan, set the numbers of miles we’d drive each day, make hotel reservations ahead of time, pick out the restaurants at which we’d dine, and then execute the plan. Before you judge me, please note that I’m capable of making plans like that. And I do. I’ve made detailed travel plans and executed them flawlessly. But this trip was different.

You see I hadn’t seen my parents (who live in Phoenix) in over a year. The same with my sister and her family (who also live in Phoenix). I was anxious. I wanted to see them. Now! I was also working with limited vacation time and we needed to be in Tucson early Monday morning for my daughter’s college orientation. The net of all this was that I wanted to arrive in Phoenix on Saturday if I wanted to attend church and relax Sunday prior to orientation. I did want THAT! I also wanted to avoid getting into Phoenix LATE Saturday night. So we pushed. Hard!

We made our plans on-the-fly and we pushed. We discussed stopping in Oklahoma City, getting up really early, and driving into Phoenix. But we decided we’d rather push hard on Day #2 and take it relatively easy on Day #3. In the end, I’m glad we did. It worked out exactly as I’d hoped. Yes, we were tired from the trip when we arrived, but we were able to make an early evening of it and get in some family time as well.

Sunday was enjoyable. We relaxed, went to church, swam in the pool, cooked out, and got to bed early again. We left for orientation Monday morning at 5am rested and ready to go. I’m glad we pushed hard and made the trip in three days instead of four. I’m glad we arrived in Phoenix at 6:30pm instead of 11:30pm. I’m glad we pushed.

Leaders know when to take it easy. But they also know how (and when) to push. And push hard. Sometimes you need to push hard to finish the semester. Sometimes you need to push hard to make the sale. Sometimes you need to push hard to make the quarter. Sometimes you need to push hard to hit productivity targets. Sometimes you need to push hard to get the kids through school. Sometimes you need to push hard to take the weight off after the holidays. Sometimes you need to push hard to get to Phoenix.

How about you? Do you know when to push hard?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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