Potholes (Issue 1130)

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.

Spring in New England; two immutable elements: Maple sugaring and potholes. One involves drilling quarter-inch holes into maple trees. The other involves deeper holes and, somehow, I did not see the second one.

It was 10:00 pm on a dark, foggy early-Spring night. I was driving from Albany, New York back to Cambridge, Massachusetts on the Massachusetts Turnpike, feeling excited to reach home. About half-way through the rural, hilly stretch between Lee and Westfield, I began to notice potholes – some patched, some not – scattered randomly in the road as far as I could see with my headlights.

I’m not sure how I overlooked the first one. Maybe looking too far ahead. It must have been big enough for a house cat to sleep in. The car jolted as if hit by a wrecking ball. My adrenaline spiked. I feared the worst; however, the car kept rolling. No flat tire. I took a VERY deep breath and slowed down a little.

And that was when I hit the second house cat pothole, this time on the right. The car bucked and veered a little left.

‘YOU’RE IN A BIG MESS NOW!” (or words to that effect) volubly commented one of my alarmed inner voices.

I steered the car to the side of the highway on the right… in the fog and the dark, just over the crest of a hill, mind you…. no problem there!!… to check the damage. As I reached the right front tire, I heard the last bits of air wheeze out.


In time, AAA sent a tow-truck, I found a nearby hotel, a local car dealership fixed the damage, and I headed home at noon the next day.

But: “How COULD you have overlooked that second pothole?”

I replayed the few seconds before impact. While I could see the second pothole in my peripheral vision on the right, just under my headlight beam, my primary focus was on the left to protect my already-stressed left front tire.

Expensive mistake. Sometimes, we look where there is light enough to see…but not where it’s dark. We focus on the left… but miss what’s on the right. We zoom in on the narrow… and miss the wide. We concentrate on one client issue but miss others with the result that our relationships lose air and go flat… and there’s no AAA to rescue us.

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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