As I write this I am 35,000 feet in the air, it is 6:45 pm and I am on my way Dallas. Once I land, I will have about a three-hour layover due to a delay. I will then fly to Oklahoma City. Once I land there, I will catch the shuttle to the rental car center, and hope there are some good cars left, as it will be about one in the morning. Then, I will have a two-hour drive to west Oklahoma. Hopefully, I will be in bed by three-thirty tomorrow morning.
If you have ever heard someone say that business travel is rough, these are the days they are talking about.
With the bad however, comes the good. This week I am lucky enough to visit a few fantastic stores. I have been to each one multiple times over the months and have a solid partnership with each location. The two stores I have visited so far this week, have very similar situations. The two main advisors are the leaders of the stores. They are both above average in skill level and boast a very earnest work ethic.
Due to the stores being geographically close to each other, I usually visit them during the same week. I have drawn the parallel between these two before, but during my visits the last two days, I found a very interesting difference between the two advisors.
Talking with the first advisor, I learned of his aspirations to grow and continue to learn. He wants to become a leader of the staff and wants to manage the store. He is not only happy where he is working, he knows this is his career and he is proud of it.
Often, I will ask advisors why they work in the car business, and what their plan is. To be honest, his state of mind is not the norm. Most advisors, and I would argue most retail employees, are not satisfied with what they are doing in a “career” sense.
During my three-hour drive to the next city on my ledger, I thought about our conversation and decided I was going to bring this up with the next store.
Upon my arrival, the second advisor was working hard and running around. She is also a hard worker and clearly cares about what she does. Now, she has a little different scenario, her husband is the service manager. So, I don’t think replacing him is her plan.
Being that she works so hard and does all the extra things needed to be very successful, I just assumed she was content with her career and wanted to do the best she could for the dealership. Nope. She works hard because it is simply her job. If she had something better to move on to, I think she would. This is not her career choice.
Fast forward a week and here I am back in the air flying from Lubbock going home.
During this last week the story of these two advisors happed to come up in conversation. A young lady working at the dealership asked me if I ever run into dealership staff that feel like they could do better, I got the feeling she was in the same boat.
I told her of the two advisors from the prior week, how although they both worked hard, one considered this their career, and one didn’t.
“Well, you can’t do halfway” was her reply.
What a great phrase! I told her I was going to steal it. She asked about me and if I was ever an advisor and how I felt about it. I told her about my first few years in the business:
When I first started out in the car business, I figured it would never last. It was just a temporary solution to have a job until I found my “real career”.
While I worked hard and did my job, I was always looking for my opportunity to find my career. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just knew this wasn’t it. This search lead me to Dallas where I started working at a dealership.
Dallas brought the same thoughts, all the hours and the hard work I put in was because I thought it was the right thing to do, but it was never because I wanted to grow my career. I always had my resume out, searching job sites and dreaming of things that could’ve been. It was almost like there was a level of shame.
Then one day, I had a life changing conversation with a fellow advisor named Matthew. We were talking about how we should move on and I decided I was done pretending. If working in this business was what I was going to do, then damnit I was going to be the best I could be.
That year my career spring boarded. I moved up to management and took over multiple stores. I started a small company with two friends that would forever change my confidence in myself and abilities. While the company didn’t succeed (we had no clue what we were doing) I am now doing the very thing we set out to accomplish.
I was halfway committed, and it wasn’t working. I was working hard because that is what you do, but I wasn’t working with the understanding that I was ok with retail service business being my career. Once I took ownership and made the decision the car business is what I am going to do, I discovered a passion for it I didn’t know existed.
Very much like the two advisors from last week, I wonder how many of us are in this same trap. How many of us really get to do what we really set out to do in life? Are you working halfway, or are you all in? Like the young lady said, “you can’t do halfway” as it will get you nowhere.
I will tell you the same thing I told her at the end of our conversation. I challenge you to think about that concept this week, what can you do in your life or job to take ownership of your situation and bring it to the next level. Think of one small actionable item and then do it.
It is one decision away; it doesn’t matter how small you think your role is, you are influencing someone somewhere, and that is enough reason to go all the way and own it.