Bottom of the 9th, bases loaded…FML.

Five minutes. Five goddamned minutes.

If you took a snapshot of any random five minutes, you’d likely see how freaking awesome he was at his job. How much his team loved him. How “on it” he was. Organized. Clean. Smiles all around.

But no, she came in at the five minutes when the shit had hit the fan. Big boss lady hadn’t been in since July. She’d heard how well everything was going, but her eyes were telling her brain a very different story…in these five minutes.

You have got to be kidding me right now. Of all the times. FML.

His direct boss new how good he was. He met with him weekly, saw the good and the bad, had a relationship with him….he knew that this five minutes was simply a blip on an otherwise amazing year of work.

The reality was simple, and honestly understandable, as unilaterally shitty as it was:

With each successive rung of the corporate ladder, leaders get two things: (1) more responsibility for what more people do, and (2) less time to form relationships with those people.

He walked out to the back dock without his jacket. February is cold, but his face was so flush that the temperature didn’t register with him.

He paced the length of the dock as he thought about his immediate boss: great depth of relationship and broad experience from which to draw judgment on his performance.

He thought about his VP: less relationship and less experience from which to judge.

He sat down on the curb by the dumpster, and thought about the CEO: almost no relationship, and five minutes from which to draw conclusions that will last a long time. No frame of reference, no mitigating knowledge, and current visual proof that things aren’t going well at this randomly chosen snippet of time.

Today sucked…but what can I learn? It seems like the further up the chain you go, the more you’re forced to make big-picture judgments on tiny snapshots of intel.

If that’s true, couldn’t we just hack it and use it to turn positive experiences into year-long positive opinions? Couldn’t we teach our team to think the same way about our customers?

 Deep breath. Deep breath…this is an opportunity.

 Holy shit it is cold.


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From that day forward, he started teaching his team that their job was to work constantly as if whatever happened in the next five minutes would either make or break them…an amazing five minutes could punch your ticket to the big leagues, and a worthless five minutes could kick you to the curb.

He taught his team to not sweat the big stuff, but to sweat the next five minutes like a batter who needs a hit right now to win the game and get carried off the field by your teammates…and a big whiff is going to get you sent back to the minors.

While her opinion was already shifted toward the negative, his new strategy became a force multiplier. His entire team started viewing every customer as the possible golden ticket. They started running toward problems, fearful that if they let the problem fester for even a minute, that may be the very minute that sends them reeling down the wrong path. And those new attitudes started translating into results.

And those results told a story that was much, much bigger than the ugly snapshot of a frozen February day.

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