Don’t drive with two feet.
I think it’s a Northern California disease. I never seem to notice it, but my wife Jeanine is excellent at spotting it.
We’ll be driving down the highway and look over in the fast lane. We’ll see a car that’s going 70 mph, but you can see the red glow of their brake lights going on and off. “Two feet!” Jeanine will yell, noting that strange skill that has people drive with their left foot on the brake and their right foot on the gas – at the same time.
It wastes a lot of energy and scares the bejeezus out of anyone following too closely.
In reviewing some “game film” with a client this week the same scenario played out. He was looking at a missed opportunity for a big sale that he supposedly fumbled. He’d promised himself to circle back with a key client, hadn’t done it, and by the time he did contact him, the client had signed a major deal with a competitor.
I asked him “Why do you think you didn’t call him back promptly?”
I thought he was going to answer with something like…“I was just overwhelmed and didn’t use my CRM software to remind me.” But suddenly he had that Eureka moment we all get from time to time. “I know why I didn’t call him back – I was scared he would say yes because I didn’t think we had the manpower available to deliver his project on time.”
He was driving his business with two feet. One foot on the brake and one on the gas.
Now on the surface that seems crazy. This is a talented, driven entrepreneur who is clear about his numbers and his mission. He really wanted the project, it would have gone a long way to meeting his yearly numbers. So why would he torpedo it? It’s a subtle thing. He had what we call a “competing commitment”.
That’s a commitment that runs under the surface, below our conscious thought, that can override what we say we’re really committed to.
None of us are immune to it, and it takes something to catch it because we’re all barreling down our own respective freeways thinking we have our foot firmly on the gas.
Here’s the good news. If you spot a competing commitment, there’s nothing you need to do with it. You don’t need to turn it into something to work on or treat it like a referendum on your leadership skills. Just notice it.
In this case, when my guy saw it…we laughed about it. Once you see it, it doesn’t have a grip on you. Now he’s free to go about producing the result he really wants.
I invite you to look for yourself. Where in your business are you saying you want one thing but you’re clearly doing another? If you’re honest, you’ll find at least one area.
And after you noticed, what might happen if you simply aligned your actions with what you were really committed to?
What if you drove your car with just one foot?
P.S. Because I ask you to take everything I give you out for a test spin, here’s an experiment. When there’s no one beside you on the road, try driving with two feet for a minute. You’ll see how disorienting it really is. 🙂