Pillar # 2: When Things Go Wrong, Don’t Go With Them

July 30, 2023

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Emotions feed problems, and more often than not, create problems when they don’t need to exist. Focus on the solution, not the problem.

Let that sink in for a moment. It’s profound. It sounds so simple. Yet it’s probably one of the hardest things to adopt in your personal mantra.
When things go wrong, don’t go with them: Pillar # 2 of our North Point Outdoors ten Pillars of Culture. This is my personal favorite. And for those of you who know me personally or have worked with me in the past, you can probably attest to the fact that I operate on this premise. I didn’t always, and I can remember the day it changed for me. It wasn’t until some years later when Dave and I were putting Pillars of Culture together did I realize it.

I was 23 years old with a Ford 150 and 8×12 trailer with a walk-behind mower. That mower happened to be in for service. I stopped to pick it up and the manager of the repair shop told me it wasn’t ready, even though they had originally said it was going to be. It was a Thursday, and I had been without the mower for a day or two. At the time, I had 40 or so lawn accounts that I cut on my own each week. I must have thought I was big time, because I laid into that service manager saying it wasn’t acceptable that it wasn’t ready, and that I had work to do. He replied “you think you’re the only one with work to do and a mower broken? If you don’t like it, wheel it up on the trailer and take it somewhere else.”
It was at that moment that I realized I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t the only one with a broken mower, a list of lawns to mow, or for that matter dealing with a problem in my business and even more profoundly in my life.

When/if you can master the concept of being dealt a problem or an issue and immediately focus your energy on the solution rather than the emotional reaction to said issue, you will become a force to be reckoned with in your career/business and you’ll also be happier in your personal life.

Now that we understand this concept. Let’s do something wild. Let’s lead and teach those on our teams in our landscaping companies to all operate under the mentality of when things go wrong, don’t go with them. Imagine a group of people ONLY focused on the solutions to problems, never living in negative thought, only in the “how do we fix this” rather than why did this happen to us…
This concept is a choice. Anyone and everyone on your team can operate this way. As a leader, however, you have the burden of being consistent for your team to always hold true to this. If you make a mistake and stray from the course, it is your responsibility to your team to identify it, apologize, and move forward.

Here’s to being unphased by conflict and focused on the solution. j

— Andrew Pelkey is chief operations officer and co-owner of North Point Outdoors. He is the current president of NHLA.

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