What really matters

Seems the Ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times and experience much upheaval and trouble in your life,” has come to fruition for the trucking industry.

So what? When hasn't the industry been “interesting?” It's an environment that is continually getting ready for change, in the middle of transformation, adjusting, and facing critical issues and a turbulent present.

The trucking organizations that grow and prosper are those that constantly and strategically review, revise, and re-plan their businesses.

For those not doing this, now is a good time to start the year ahead with a fresh look to steering your enterprise. In these “interesting times,” organizations that don't plan their future aren't likely to have one.

I've discovered that the more successful companies share certain business practices that help them thrive and stay ahead of the competition. For a start, they measure and regularly review performance and objective attainment, making changes when necessary.

They understand that if performance can't be gauged, processes and procedures can't be improved. And if changes are made, there's no way to determine whether the adjustments were effective.

These businesses establish goals using some variation of the SMART technique. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound.

Another common practice of the more successful companies is determining priorities and accountability.

Further, they do proactive problem-solving to anticipate problems and take positive steps to eliminate them. This enables them to develop reasoned plans to avoid having to just act in response to circumstances.

Management cultivates a culture that encourages innovation and collaboration, and maintains a management style that makes possible quick response to changed conditions, unplanned events, and deviations from plans.

The start of this New Year is also a perfect time to reevaluate how well we balance (juggle) the time and responsibilities between work and family.

Last month an uncle of mine passed away from a long illness, and three friends died suddenly. This was a lightning-bolt reminder of just how precious life is, and how all that “small stuff” is just not so significant in the big scheme of things.

The deaths made me think about how important family, friends, and associates are, and how we too often don't spend enough time with them, tell them how we love and appreciate them, thank them for their efforts and ideas, and so forth.

While pondering all this, I recalled something my dad told me many years ago: “I never knew anyone, who on his death bed said: ‘I wish I had spent more time at work.’”

I have made a pledge to better organize my work and manage distractions and procrastination. Technology makes it far too easy for us to become workaholics.

I've also made a vow to be more aware of the importance of others, and to look for more opportunities to let them know how I feel about them.

My SMART goal is to stop making sacrifices that I will end up regretting farther down the road, stop losing track of what counts, and become more conscious of what actually makes a difference in life.

On behalf of everyone at Refrigerated Transporter, best wishes for a safe, happy, healthy, meaningful, and successful New Year.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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