While walking from an enjoyable meeting at Jolt yesterday, I happened upon a vehicle slowly veering towards the sidewalk and then righting itself as it limped along to the crossing at the corner of Ridgway St and Victoria Ave.

I thought that it might be someone who needed help (flat tyre maybe, or an issue with the vehicle in general). I was wrong on all accounts.

It was a "millennial' driver with a smart phone texting (phone pressed into the centre of the steering wheel) while driving.

I do get uneasy when I am on the road and I see drivers repeatedly looking up and down at their laps but it is even more disconcerting when this is encountered as a pedestrian.


And when you try to point out the danger of this practice, the drivers concerned almost always indicate that they only have one phone in their car by extending a single middle finger.

I remember being young, that feeling of being bullet proof and that bad stuff happened to other people. It wasn't until bad stuff happened to me that I grasped it was unlikely that I was immortal and that I had to take greater care.

Invariably, bad things happened when I was distracted and some of my biggest lessons have come when something distracted me from my personal goals.

So too it is with business ventures. Sometimes the danger which is associated with a business is all the doing of those who are part of it.

Internal distractions and infighting can take the eyes of a business off strategic goals and, similarly, being too focussed on what is going on outside the business – especially when it comes to competitors – can also be counter productive.

The most important trait of successful business people is to be able to determine what is important and what is not.

Those that have this ability refined are able to shut down distractions pretty much immediately. Alternately, these people don't allow distractions to take hold and get in the way of their plans.

Taking the cell phone example a step further, the successful business person would schedule contact points or just would not engage in a practice which has inherent danger(s). And like the driver I spotted today, the danger was not only to them, it was to others in the vicinity of the vehicle.


But most of all, and this also counts for distractions in business, I don't think that drivers who text and drive realise that the embedding of a distraction opens up further exponential risk.

Just like a driver might graduate from smart phone distractions in Victoria Avenue to texting while on the open highway; so too a business with unresolved internal issues will risk the failure of a future initiative or major project.

So, in relation to the texting driver, I will continue to intervene in these situations and accept the risk of the middle finger retort.

And even if the response is similar in a business context, intervention is always necessary – because if even one accident or failure can be avoided, we are all the better for it.

*Balance Consulting is a Whanganui consultancy specialising in business strategy, process excellence and leadership mentoring — contact Russell Bell on 021 2442421 or John Taylor on 027 4995872