Are We There Yet?

May 27, 2020

Memorial Day – the unofficial start of summer. And, if your family was anything like mine, the unofficial start to road trip season.

One memory stands out from all those childhood road trips…the constant refrain of “Are we there yet?”

It started almost as soon as we got in the car and continued until we finally pulled into our parking spot at the select destination. We must have driven our parents crazy!

This summer we’re all on a road trip together. The whole world. It’s the road trip back to some sense of stability, some semblance of normal.

As a business owner, you’re asking that question yourself and you have employees and customers asking you the question, too. Everybody wants to know: “Are we there yet?”

Let’s be honest…it’s going to take awhile.

My parents were experts at coping with the constant question.  They had strategies to avoid making the whole ride miserable for all of us.

Here are some things my parents did that I’m going to borrow for my business:

  • Make sure you have enough fuel – Running out of gas along the way can create an uncomfortable delay in getting to the destination. Make sure that you have the information, tools and support you need the sustain you for the trip.
  • Keep expectations in check – When we thought we had an eight-hour trip ahead, our patience started running out at about six hours. That’s when my mom happily announced we only had 30 minutes more to go…what a relief! Estimating a longer time to normalize and recover than it eventually takes will keep everybody happy.
  • Give everyone a task –Having something to do can keep people grounded and focused. For our trips, one sister was responsible for snacks, one for games, and one for scheduling comfort stops along the way. Drawing our attention to the task was a great way to draw attention away from our frustration. Find a way to give everyone on your team a task that contributes to managing this uncertain time so that you get to the destination appreciating each other.
  • Make sure everybody is comfortable along with way – People get more anxious when they are physically or emotionally uncomfortable. During this trip back to normal, do all you can to check on your employees and customers to keep them comfortable. This could involve keeping people employed, providing bridge services to customers, or offering support to those who are suffering particular hardships.
  • Provide reassurance that you’re on the right path – It always helped when my dad calmly said that we were not lost and that we were taking the best route to get where we were going. Your employees and customers need that reassurance from you.
  • Create a positive picture of what will happen on arrival – Focus attention on the destination, rather than on the discomforts of getting there. Ask people to describe the first thing they will do once you get “there.” Talk about what it will look like, how it will feel, what will be good.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy the ride – As great as it was to finally get to the lake or the mountains, some of my best memories are the things we saw and did along the way…license plate bingo…scenic overlooks…singing silly songs…sharing “what I like best about you” appreciations. While we’re in this “in-between” time, remind yourself and your team to appreciate the gifts of slowing down, shifting perspectives, and traveling this road together.

We’re not “there” yet, but we’ll get there. Safe travels.

 

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris