Friday, February 13, 2009

If you slow down, you’ll see Gary - “take time to make time”

Whether it was to save gas or because it was beautiful outside, I decided to ride my trusty beach cruiser downtown to do an errand. I peddled briskly and directly to my place of business, straightened out a billing error and then returned to my bike. I unlocked it from the rack and thought to myself, it is too nice to rush back home. It occurred to me that if I peddle slow enough down Main Street, I bet I will run into someone I know.

I was now 90% of the distance down Main Street and saw a couple of folks I sort of knew. Seeing the end, I slowed down even more and then it happened – a now retired colleague was walking down the street with his daughter, son-in-law and grandchild. Gary was a knowledgeable, professional, trusted, people-person that I had not seen in years. He does not live anywhere near where we were and said he was visiting on a whim based on his daughter’s invitation that morning.

This was a great reminder to all leaders that we lead people. We need to slow down every once in a while to make sure we are connecting and have real relationships.

Have you ever surprised yourself of the value of “taking time” to touch base with your team?


David Engle said...

Please slow down - you'll never be a real leader if you don't know where your people are, what they are doing, how they are doing, how their family is doing, how their dog i doing - and last but not least how their job is going.

You've got to be aware that there is more to life than 8-5 (or however late you work) and that you must be interested in your employees work-life balance.

John Bishop said...

Thanks David. I worked professionally for over 10 years before I had my first boss that actually took an interest in my life outside the company's walls. It was so motivating. I would do anything for him.


Anonymous said...

Good one John.

Anonymous said...


Good post. Make you think about how little we reflect or set aside time to reflect. Some much information - do we take time to reflect and digest this all into knowledge and wisdom? I have a couple of comments for all to reflect on:

Pain and Problems is not Puishment - but a Wake Up Call!
Greatness is conscious choice coupled with discipline.
We all have responsibilites - NOT JOBS!
Friendship takes Desire, Time, and Energy
Be Authentic - Encourge Frankness and blunt Truth
Genuine Friendship is built on disclosure - full!
Bitterness and Resentment is the Greatest barrier to friendship.
It all starts in the heart - business is a deeply personal endeavor (The Radical Edge).
Become personally accountable for making the future marketly better than the present - by your conscious actions (The Radical Edge).

Hopefully these comments will evoke the leader in all of us and improve the future in just some small way by our present actions.


Anonymous said...


Nice story. It has been easy for me to miss such moments in the corporate world where the default speed is "fast" no matter what the problem or situation. Of course that leaves us little time for reflection or connection. And, if fast is our default speed, it means that we miss out on a whole class of experiences where the proper (and needed) speed is "slow". I know that I personally trust "always fast" people less because I doubt their sincerity and interest in me.

What fascinates me about your story is how you determined or recognized the "right" speed. You noticed the beautiful day and maybe had a vague notion that something good could come from slowing down. Then you met your former colleague which was a far better outcome than simply rushing home.

It is instructive to me to ask "what is the right speed" rather than how can I speed up in every situation. It is being attuned to the situation and yourself that helps one decide that speed. It is asking the question of the environment and myself about what factors are presently important that helps me decide. This idea has definitely served me well at work though it sometimes mystifies my one-speed (either always fast or always slow) friends.

-- Tom

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

I'm not sure if Stephen Covey originated the saying, "Fish discover water last" but I have heard him say it on more than one occasion. There are many applications for this phrase but, in the context of your story, I think it fits in the following way. Sometimes, we see people in leadership roles who swim about in the "aquarium of business" gobbling up smaller fish, darting from one thing to the next, and waiting for their next feeding. Yet, we can see precisely what is going on in the aquarium as observers. Their actions are very visible and we can see cause and effect of their behavior. If we are change agents. rather than mere observers in an organization. we need to help leaders stop and engage with their people.

In a prior role, I often cut out newspaper clippings featuring stories about employees or their families (sports, awards, weddings, etc.) which I would then forward on to a leader who might come in contact with those people. Given a conduit for conversation, the leaders consistently made mention of these things to employees at the very earliest opportunity. The interaction was genuine and the employees were often astonished that the executive took the time to acknowledge life outside the business.

It's not that leaders are indifferent. They do need to slow down, as you suggest, but sometimes also need a boost to get them going in this area.


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