Pause… Before Proceeding (Issue 1064)

In which we are encouraged to ensure we’ve identified all the key players and moving parts in a client’s buying process.

Last Saturday morning, I took an early-morning two-hour walk around my Cambridge, Massachusetts neighborhood. I particularly like walking our city streets – lots of stuff to look at, many people to see.

On the return leg of the walk, with about 30 minutes to go, I sensed that a fluid level adjustment break would be needed soon. With about 10 minutes to go, this sense turned to full recognition. With forty yards to go, I felt a full adjustment emergency.

With only 30 seconds of walking needed to reach the house, relief was in sight. I reached an intersection. I stopped at the curb.

This particular spot is a little tricky. No traffic light. No marked crosswalk.

20 yards to my right there was a fork in the street controlled by a traffic light. Cars coming through the fork could veer left to go behind me or continue straight to drive past me. Since few people use turn signals, it’s a bit of a guessing game when traffic is moving. And, by this time, Saturday morning traffic was in full swing.

Of course, if one were not experiencing a fluid level emergency, one could walk to the traffic light, wait two minutes for the “Walk” sign, and cross there, safely. I had no such time.

So, I took a quick look to my left – clear. I took a longer look at the fork to my right – everyone seemed to be veering left to go behind me. Anticipating imminent relief, I stepped off the curb to cross the street.

“Look out!!!”

I gasped, froze, and looked left… into the wide-open eyes of an emergency-stopped bicycle rider.

“I’m sorry”, I croaked. She responded with a “ You’re pathetic” grimace and, with a head shake, motioned me to go ahead. I stepped forward.

“Look out!!!” she shouted again. I gasped and froze as a red convertible, accelerating through the fork in the road to my right, leaned into an abrupt stop a few feet away.

I shrugged and waved an apology. The driver acknowledged me with a digital salute and ELABORATELY motioned me to go ahead.

I hadn’t seen the bicycle coming. At the time I looked left, she had been hidden by a car parked a few yards up the street. I hadn’t seen the convertible because I was startled by my near collision with the bicycle and paying strict attention to my needed adjustment.

So… I reminded myself: No matter urgently we need to reach our objectives and no matter how close or easy those last few steps look, it’s good to pause and look around a couple of times, carefully, to ensure we’ve identified in any situation all moving parts.

Nick Miller trains bankers to attract and expand relationships with businesses. More profitable relationships, faster. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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