Last week, I logged nearly 1900 miles…driving from Gainesville to Nashville to South Florida and back to Gainesville again. And, with the help of some strategically-consumed coffee along the way, I successfully maneuvered the week-long course safely.

Tired as I was, I managed to stay awake for the duration…a total of 27 hours on the road.

During the journey, my mind kept wandering to the scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation where Chevy Chase fell asleep at the wheel, ultimately ending up in the hotel parking lot. That image alone always gives me a chuckle…and, was enough to keep me awake!

Ironically, I also had plenty of time to ponder my next blog post.

Clark Griswold…driving the Wagon Queen Family Truckster…falling asleep at the wheel. It was all starting to come together…right around Chattanooga, Tennessee. My “AHA” moment!

The notion of falling asleep at the wheel seemingly allows other drivers to pass us by and get to the destination before we do. Obviously, it is a dangerous occurrence in both our personal and professional lives.

Personally…there is undeniably a potential for bodily harm.

Professionally…if you fall asleep at the wheel, someone is going to pass you by. More importantly, someone else is going to win over your clients!

What does it take to keep both hands on the wheel…and awake?

It takes a clear direction of purpose.

And, with a clear direction…one that the entire agency has bought into…the path is never dark. The path is always lit with opportunity, and especially for those who relish opportunity to grow.

Agency leaders are obligated to provide their group…no matter how big or how small, a direction. There is a duty to create a path…a ‘drive’ if you will.

Falling asleep at the wheel, although a funny scene in the Vacation movie, is really no laughing matter. In business, your competition is always looking for opportunities to pass up “sleepers.” Your competition will be right around the turn and is relishing the occasion to take over the course and make it to the finish line before you do.

How do we drive home our direction of purpose?:

  • Fuel the mind, consistently
    Keep reading books, blog posts, online articles, and attend seminars to keep you and your staff up-to-date on how to continually build your business: sales, marketing, public relations, and customer service
  • Cross-train your staff
    A strong staff is a cross-trained staff, especially for the smaller agencies. Hold weekly, bi-weekly, and/or monthly meetings specifically to train everyone on a different characteristic of the agency. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Get involved in your agency
    Don’t be a recluse! Get involved, from the top down. Understand the dynamics of your team and how to best utilize their talents…put the right team in the right seats on the bus! Remember, you are the driver.
  • Get involved in your community
    “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” ~Anthony D’Angelo. Give back to your community…your clients will take notice and recognize you for your civic duty.
  • Have a good co-pilot
    Who is the one person (or persons) in your agency that keeps you in check? Who is the co-pilot who ensures you are on the right track? If you are asleep at the wheel…who will nudge you to keep your eyes focused on the road?
  • Get a compass
    Without a business plan or guide…you cannot possibly have a direction. Sit down with your staff and find out the direction of the agency for one, two, or five years down the road. Once you have that direction, let the compass (business plan) be your guide.
  • Light the way
    A direction of purpose is a long road…so, lead the way by keeping the path lit for your staff and your clients. Be a leader!

In the movie, the entire Griswold family was asleep, and more importantly, the family patriarch was asleep at the wheel. And, if you remember, no one saw the misdirection, the path, or the arrival point until they were already there…sliding sideways into the hotel parking lot.

Unlike Clark Griswold, you are not driving across the country to see Marty Moose at Walleyworld…your journey is the drive of a lifetime! It is a direction of purpose!

Chevy Chase exemplified our fears of driving long distances. During that trip, never lose sight of the vision or direction of the agency. This is what separates the wide awake drivers from those asleep at the wheel.

“Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun.” ~Clark Griswold