A number of years ago I was a police officer with a distinguished department. I look back and I find that there are many life lessons and lessons for business that can come from my time there. One area of life lessons can come the firing range. The range is fast paced, violent, and tumultuous not unlike the daily grind.
Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast
On the range, firing your weapon is only part of the task. Putting rounds accurately on the target is the key. Anyone can pull a trigger, but can they hit the target. It takes hand position along with a slow and steady trigger pull to be accurate with the weapon. Hence slow trigger pull is smooth, smooth trigger pull is fast in the thought that you don’t have to do it again. I have thought about this over the past few years as I have seen business decisions made. The easiest decision may not be the best. A decision to do the something fast, if not the best decision will ultimately be slower. Taking time to do the right thing the first time around, even if it costs a little extra in time and money, will always ultimately be faster and less expensive than fixing the project or the reputation that was damaged because the decision was made to do something fast.
Reality is not Reality, Perception is Reality
In a police shooting, it does not matter what the reality of the circumstances are. The only thing that matters is the perception. In business, a client does not care what the reality of a situation is. The reality may be that parts are delayed, that another client did not pay a bill, or the company sent everyone on a two week vacation. What they perceive is their reality. If they perceive they are being taken care of, that their needs are met, and that they are doing business with a company that takes care of them; they will expand their business with yours. If they feel like they are ignored, even though they actually are not; they will take their business elsewhere.
On the range, there is an injury called a slide bite. This occurs when your hand is too high on the backstrap of a semi-automatic pistol. When the slide comes back after the first round is fired, it pinches the webbing of the hand and leaves two bloody “teeth” marks on the webbing that look similar to a snake bite. I have heard it is a very painful injury. This is what is called a self-correcting injury. We have all had them. We did something stupid and it caused us great pain. We dropped something on our toe, we said the wrong thing to our spouse, we showed up late to a major meeting with the boss, or any number of other very stupid and very painful things we have done. Those are all self-correcting injuries, something that hurt so bad that we will never make that mistake again.
On the range, you constantly have to be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to shoot at a target placed directly in front of a gas tank. You don’t want to be running and not see the metal sign that you run into. Too many times in the corporate world, we don’t worry about signs and gas tanks; however we still have to use situational awareness. We need to know who our clients are and what their needs are. Too many times we have an agenda, and if we looked at the full situation, we may see that the agenda needs to be tailored more. Far too often we try to meet the needs of the client now without planning for the future, when it is more cost effective to plan for the future in the now.