There is a story coming out of Detroit that former Seahawks and current Detroit Lions player, Nate Burleson broke his car in a single-car accident late Monday night after watching Monday Night Football at the home of one if his teammates. Any time you hear of a late night, single car accident, your mind goes to alcohol or drugs. Happily in this case, that is not an issue. However, there is always a reason for a single car accident. Sometimes it has to do with the uncontrollable like a deer running out in the road. More often than not it deals with something much more basic and in our control. For Nate Burleson, it was about pepperoni and cheese.
According to an Associated Press story, Burleson was distracted by trying to keep two boxes of pizza from falling off the passenger seat. He reached to keep them from dumping on the floor and in so doing, dumped himself into a ditch, breaking his arm in the process. The consequences are severe. For him, he’s going to lose at least 8-10 weeks of his season. In terms of the brevity of an NFL career, this is significant and he will never regain that time. For his team, they lose a key member of the team to the sideline where he can’t help them.
If you think my moral of the story is about distracted driving, you’d be wrong (although having it as a sub-plot is certainly a smart thing to remember)…
I have three business applications for all of you who own a business, or are responsible for business continuation of one:
1. The Lions now need a backup plan for Burleson. I’m sure they have one in place because he could just as easily have been injured playing football. That’s good business for them. It’s also good business for you, except most of the business owners I speak to have a poor to non-existent crisis plan in case bad things happen. What’s yours?
2. Nate Burleson is a smart guy who made a dumb decision. A floorboard filled with pepperoni beats out a broken arm any day. In all candor, I’ve been known to make the same mistake, too; yet have not ended up with the same result. I’ve been lucky. Your employees do dumb things sometimes. More often than not, they are just lapses in judgement (like this). Sometimes you just have bad people working for you. Education, training, and good hiring procedures are critical to avoiding disasters to begin with. How often are you doing those things in your business?
3. Burleson knows that taking his eye off the ball in a football game leads to a dropped pass. Taking your eyes off the road leads to broken bones and a broken car. Taking your eyes off your business objectives leads running off your own road and path. How well focused on the ball are you in your business?
Oh by the way, you don’t have to be running your own business to take something away from this story. How often do we as individuals make bad priority decisions in that split second? Can we train ourselves to strategize in advance for contingencies, or will we go through life making sure the pizza is the priority.
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