Signs (Issue 1126)

In which we are reminded that too much focus may mean missed opportunities.

Preparing to fly home from a city that shall remain nameless, I drove my rental car through the airport looking for access to the gas station from whose cool, subterranean tanks I needed fuel. I was feeling lucky. No traffic in front of me. Still time to fill the tank and make the plane. Down the approach to the terminals, up the ramp to the “departures” level, left turn at the top of the ramp.

There I found two orange barricades, limiting traffic to one lane, behind which stood a State Police officer who precisely motioned me to pull over and stop. He approached the car. I opened my window. “Good afternoon,” he said. “Good afternoon,” I replied.

“Do you know the speed limit here?” he inquired. “No… I don’t,” I replied. [This was true.]

“15 miles per hour. It starts at the bottom of that ramp you just came up.” I shook my head. “I never saw the signs.” [This was true, too. I was looking around to locate signs for the gas station or airport exit. I never saw the ramp speed limit signs.]

“So I gathered,” he said. “I’ll bet you’re in a hurry to get some place.”

“Yes,” I replied. “I am.”

“Well, I’d hate to slow you down, so please pay attention to ALL the signs as you drive through the airport.” And then he wished me a good afternoon and motioned me to proceed.

When I related this story to a friend, she said, “Well, first, nice that he didn’t give you a ticket. And, second, it’s pretty hard to pay attention to ALL the signs when you’re looking around, trying to find something.”

Yes, I was so busy looking for gas station signs that I didn’t notice the multiple speed limit notices. Whoops! If the signs didn’t include the word “fuel” or “gasoline”, they didn’t register.

Reminds me of times when we’ve launched ourselves into prospects or clients so focused on our specific objectives that we missed other opportunities because we didn’t see or pay attention to those signs.

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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