Potholes (Issue 900)

In which we are reminded to maintain a broad field of vision in our clients even as we focus, from time to time, on single issues.

Somehow, I did not see the second pothole.

It was 10:00 pm, dark, and foggy, and  I was feeling excited to reach home, driving from Albany, New York back to Cambridge, Massachusetts. I’d been on the road about an hour and 20 minutes, driving the 30-mile light-less, hilly stretch between Lee and Westfield, when I began to notice the potholes – some patched, some not – punctuating my path.

I’m not sure how I overlooked the first pothole I hit.  I didn’t see it. It must have been big enough for a house cat to sleep in.  The car jolted and the sound of impact was like a big hammer hitting the left front quarter of the car. My adrenaline spiked straight up; I feared the worst, damage to the struts and a flat tire. However, the car kept rolling and no flat tire. Thank you, automotive engineers and manufacturers!

Feeling a bit edgy, not wanting to repeat that experience, I reduced my speed a bit to give myself more time to react.

And that was when I hit the second, equally capacious pothole, this time on the right side.  Within a few seconds, I could feel that the right tire was losing air. I drove on for a bit and then decided to pull over to check out the damage.

‘YOU’RE IN A BIG MESS NOW!”  (or words to that effect) volubly commented one of my many now-active inner voices. And, no doubt about that, I was. “HOW COULD YOU HAVE MISSED THAT HOLE?”

I replayed in my mind the few seconds before the right-side impact.  On the replay, I could see in my peripheral vision the second pothole, on the right, just under my headlight beam, but my primary focus had been to the left, to protect my already-stressed left front wheel and tire.

By the time I walked around to the right front tire, I could hear the last bits of air wheezing out.

Long, late story short, with two new tires, I was back on the road by noon, the following day.

“How could you have overlooked that pothole?”

Sometimes (and, sometimes, for good reasons) we narrow our field of vision to focus on one issue. We focus on the left… but miss things we should have seen on the right. We focus on one set of client issues but miss others. We sell a product our clients need NOW but fail to explore other issues that could deepen the relationships, either now or later, leaving us with relationships that lack sufficient air to continue rolling forward.

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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