I realize now I never told him what we were doing and why we were doing it in any real detail. It just needed to get done.
I was busy, so he needed to be busy. I just told him to get in the car with not much more than a “We gotta go!”
We went to Lowe’s. We went to get him a haircut. We went to the grocery store.
Finally on our way to a fourth destination he said, “Am I not a real person here? Don’t I matter? Where are we going!!? ”
I realized then that I had essentially kidnapped my 12 year old son.
The problem is “Kidnapper” was not on my bucket list. And a bigger problem might be that it happens in business more than we think.
During the kidnapping, my child felt anxious about where we were going. He felt anxious about not being able to influence where we were going. He felt anxious about not having any control of the situation. And he felt anxious that he’s as the mercy of his captor (me) who is not talking too much.
In hindsight, I think that if I offered more in guidance, direction or real or perceived collaboration about these errands, he would have felt a lot more comfortable and would have been engaged in helping me get everything done.
In foresight, I wonder if we as leaders or account executives or customer service reps unintentionally “kidnap” our employees or customers at times. I wonder if we unintentionally kidnap these folks in a major way for as long as weeks or months or in a mini way for as little as hours or minutes. Either way, kidnapping is a problem.
I wonder in the rush to get the message out, the order placed, the demo done or that call completed if we aren’t always so clear enough about where we are going and why we are going there.
I wonder if we aren’t open minded enough about being influenced or sharing some control along the way in these and other situations. I wonder if we don’t realize that our charges or customers feel as if they are at times, at our mercy.
What I don’t wonder about is this; If there is anxiousness about where, why or about influence or control, then employees and customers just stop. Stop listening, stop caring and in the worst case, stop attaching themselves to you.
In the end, ask yourself if you’ve ever heard or sensed iterations of my son’s words to me on Saturday from an employee or customer. “Do I matter? Where are we going!? ” If the answer is yes then check the kidnapping skills at the door.
Till next time,
Grow The Business.