Leadership Libations

October 26, 2009

Lesson’s from Atlanta’s Super Speedway

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 2:55 pm

I grew up in Atlanta Georgia. Granted, it was an emerging southern city, where the “perimeter” was the line between the city and the country. I grew up just north of the perimeter, in East Marietta. At that time, we were on the “end” of the civilized universe…..or maybe just out depending on who you talked too. Whether i85i285you grew up in Buckhead, Dunwoody, Smyrna, or Chamblee, there was one fixture, one part of Atlanta that we all we’re in tune with —- I-285 – The Loop.

The Loop was a 4-lane oval that went around Atlanta back in the 70’s & 80’s, but like all things in Atlanta, it has grown in epic proportions. Those humble four lanes have been expanded, now 8-12 lanes wide depending on the section of town you are in….even with that, during rush hour, the same gridlock that haunts other mega cities takes hold on I-285. So much so, that I avoid the rush hour traffic when I am in town by leaving a little early to avoid the whole mess. Last week was a repeat of that strategy and as I headed down the great big oval I was amazed and in awe of the behaviors I saw. Inspiring me to share some thoughts for the leaders amongst us…..and hopefully the drivers.

1. Pick a lane – At 6am, Atlanta’s superspeedway is starting to get crowded. Requiring drivers to actually start to recognize where they are, where they are going, and importantly where they need to be to get there. The driver who aimlessly feels the need to be in the left lane for half a mile before driving across 4 lanes of traffic to catch the next exit is one of the reasons that traffic on the superspeedway will be backed up in a few hours. In business, it’s the same, be strategic, look ahead, think about where you are and where you are going and then pick a damn lane!
ricky-bobby-if-you-aint-first2. Focus on what your doing, not on distractions – ok, everyone makes fun of the woman putting on her make-up or the man animatedly spewing on his phone. Those targets are a little too easy for this post. I-285 early in the morning is a hodge podge of breakfast eaters, primpers, texters, and I would guess tweeter’s cruising along at 80mph. Fairly scary, where were those films when these people went to drivers ed??? Don’t get me wrong, I’m passing most of them, the speed isn’t my issue….speed doesn’t kill…..idiots kill! Just like business….If you are going to drive 80+mph, focus. If you want to do all these other things….find a slow lane for your management style.
3. Warning signals are great…..if you need to warn folks – OK, I understand Atlanta has been in a drought. But seriously, it rains, and no one knows how to drive? These very people who only moments ago were driving 90mph, primping their hair, and eating an EggBoBiscuit now slow down to 40 and put their hazard lights on with a little rain? All businesses have challenges! You shouldn’t be going so fast that you blast past those challenges….but you can’t ask the world to stop so you can catch your breath. Don’t count on the world to slow down because you’ve gotten a little bit of inclement weather.

Yes, Atlanta does have a Nascar race, but the lessons learned from Atlanta’s real Super Speedway meet the need for speed!

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