Pick up your head (a marketing lesson from Maggie the mostly lab)

Picture 7 This past weekend, I took Maggie the mostly lab on a long walk along a wooded trail near my home. 

We had the trail to ourselves as it was a cold, gray day…with a steady drizzle.  As we walked, I couldn't help but notice that Maggie rarely looked up, her nose close to the ground as she sniffed with vigor, weaving back and forth. 

It occurred to me that we often do the same thing.  The pressures of work, juggling all the projects or clients, trying to squeeze in a little work/life balance etc. has us nose to the ground much of time. 

But as I observed Maggie on this walk, she clearly illustrated the dangers of that mindset.

You lose sight of what's going on around you:  On our walk, the trail was a hopping place.  Four deer, 2 rabbits (including the tiniest baby rabbit I have ever seen), a woodchuck and more birds and squirrels than I could count all literally ran right in front of us, crossing the trail.  Maggie didn't see one of them.  Think how different her walk experience would have been if she had.  (I'm pretty sure I saw one of the deer mocking Maggie to the other deer.)

How many times have we missed an opportunity because we were out of touch with what was going on around us, in our industry or maybe even in our own company?  Often times, those opportunities cross our paths once and then they're gone for good if we're not ready.

You step in things you wish you hadn't:  As we rounded a bend in the trail, Maggie was so oblivious, she walked right into a patch of pricker weeds.  She let out a yelp that was so loud, she spooked all the birds in the trees around us.

Admit it, you've been so absorbed in the minutia of the day, or in an internal political battle or worrying about losing your job that you've stepped in something pretty unpleasant too.  It's so easy to get sucked into our own heads or a project that we don't see we're stepping on a landmine, often with disastrous results.

You can go down the wrong path:  At one point in the walk, I decided just to see where Maggie would lead us.  Now, I am not suggesting she is a genius but we've walked this same trail many, many times.  But because she had her head down, she very quickly took us off the main trail, and into one of the neighborhoods surrounding the area.

We have to see the big picture to make good choices.  We need to know what our customers are saying, our competition is doing and how the marketplace is responding.  Without that, we're literally making decisions in the dark and can end up where we don't want to be.

Take it from Maggie and me.  Make some time on your calendar to step back and look around.  Don't let the day's tasks drag your head down too close to the ground. 

I'm curious — how do you balance the demands of the day with the need to keep your head up?

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