Great leaders could get busted driving while influencing every day. I caught my grandfather doing this in one of the most influential car rides in my life. The moment took place as a nine-year-old in the back of his extended cab Ford Ranger. I don’t mean the spacious crew cabs of today, but where the seats faced each other and shoulder room was limited!
Paw Paw and his friend Billy were having a conversation in the front seat as if I did not exist. He was telling his friend that I was going to make something of myself. I remember the words clear as day. Those words would inspire me to be the first person in my family to graduate from college and have driven me towards success in my career.
Time spent driving in a vehicle allows leaders opportunities to not only influence others, but themselves. Whether it is your daily work commute, headed to the grocery store, taking your kid(s) to a sports tournament, or a long ride to a well-deserved vacation, it is an opportunity to get better.
Here are seven ways you can grow as a leader while driving:
Podcasts and audio books are great resources to get better while driving. My personal preference around town on shorter trips are podcasts. In fact, my truck just picks up where I left off when I start a new drive. For long trips, I love to start and finish an audiobook. There is a ton of content out there between these two resources that can help you positively influence your leadership journey while driving.
Escape Reality With Good Music
This is preferably done by yourself (especially if you cannot sing), but roll the windows down and let your favorite play list roll. Sing as loud as your heart desires! Escape reality for just a little while and get lost in a good song. Just do not get caught at a red light with other people watching. It gets awkward.
I had twenty-five-minute drive ahead of me this past Saturday. Each and every year I have to make the dreaded call to the local cable provider to try to get them to lower my rate after they raised it again. This is always painful a process. Many times, I will deal with this while I am at home and take valuable time away from the family. Plus, it usually just puts me in a bad mood.
So, I sucked it up and make the handsfree call. The good news is it did not take me the entire twenty-five minutes and I got my bill lowered by ten dollars a month! I finished the call in a good mood and did not rob my family of the time or the exposure to my frustration. I was productive.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
You may have heard people talk about the concept of, “garbage in, garbage out.” In some quick research it looks like the concept was generated in the world of computer/software programming. Which is true, the data coming out is only as good as what went in.
Therefore, I choose not to listen to the news or sports talk when I drive. The news today has nothing to provide me with to positively impact the trajectory of my day. Usually, it has the ability to do the opposite. I am from Georgia and am a big homer. The Falcons, Braves, Hawks, UGA Football, Kennesaw State Athletics, or any other team from Georgia is who I root for. Each organization generally gives most Haters a buffet of opportunities to criticize them. It is easier to turn it off then to get caught up in the emotion of it that can easily redirect my day.
Make Phone Calls
Haven’t talked to someone in a while? I know a lot of times while I am driving, someone will pop into my head that I have not spoken to in a while. The drive presents the perfect opportunity to give them a buzz and catch up. You never ever regret making these calls after you hang up. You can sense the appreciation of the thoughtfulness on the other end of the line for these unexpected check ins. It makes them feel special. We all want to feel special. Just make the call.
Talk To Yourself
This could be a little weird if you get caught doing it as well, but sometimes talking to yourself is a good thing. Maybe you are headed to a presentation and need to run through the speech one more time, or maybe you need to figure out the best way to articulate bad news you are about to deliver. The time in the vehicle lends itself for preparation of either. Just know that if you continue to have a tough conversation with someone who is not in the vehicle, you probably should have already had that conversation in person.
Also, watch the tone in how you treat yourself. It is easy to be critical of yourself during these moments. For me, I can become my own greatest critic. Instead, choose to build yourself up. Be positive when you talk to yourself. We all need it!
Strike Up A Good Conversation
The above items are typically done better while driving by yourself. When you have a loved one, friend, co-worker, or anyone in the vehicle with you, strike up a good old-fashioned conversation. I can pass down stories to my children, check in on something a team member is walking through personally, or laugh with a friend. In the world of text messaging, conversations can be impersonal and brief. Striking up a good in-person conversation with someone is about as real and personal of a connection as you can get.
Conclusion – Driving While Influencing
If the Leadership Police was on duty, would you get caught driving while influencing? Anytime I drive anywhere, I want to take advantage of that time to get better. I grow my perspective, my knowledge, and improve my attitude. Somedays I need to roll the windows down and sing by myself (I cannot sing), somedays I need to get lost in a leadership podcast, or somedays I need to make that call. It just depends on where I am in my world that day.
Are you taking advantage of your time to grow personally and professional in the vehicle? Hopefully this post changes your perspective on the great opportunity you have driving while influencing.
Ordinary to Extraordinary Intersection
Are you getting better as a leader while driving? How can you practice these opportunities to be productive and get better while driving? Start today.