End the Detour: Getting Back to What Matters Most

End the Detour

I was taking a walk early one morning last week and ran across the sign that you see in the title picture above:  End Detour.

I drive by that little orange sign every morning on my way to work and never notice it.  But that day it caught my eye for some reason.

This detour (and the sign, apparently…) has been in place since Hurricane Irene rumbled through our town back in August of 2011, rendering a nearby bridge unusable.   It’s been so long that I don’t even think of my drive as part of a detour.  It’s just how I do things now.

It got me thinking about how often in life we find ourselves on some kind of detour away from the things that matter most, or the way we should be doing things, and then forget we’re off track.  We create and accept a new normal.  Think about it…


Another view from my walk last week…

We end up on detours in our personal relationships all the time.  As a married guy, I’m reminded of this every year when my wife Kristine and I take our annual wedding anniversary trip.  We spend a couple of nights at a B&B in a cool town, go out to great dinners, go for hike or walk and just re-connect.  It pulls us off the detour of daily family life: coordinating calendars, household projects, cleaning and fixing stuff, taking the kids to practice, helping with homework (you get the idea.)  If just for a couple of days, we begin to remember what our relationship is all about and what road we started down in the first place.  Taking the time away reminds us both of what matters the most at the core of our relationship.

  • What relationships in your life are traveling in detour mode?
  • What’s just one small thing you might do this week to move back toward what matters most?

The detours we take in the world of sales are endless!  It’s so easy to get caught up in piles of sketchy data, peripheral noise and administrative nonsense that we forget that our actual job is to have quality conversations with customers.  Instead of drilling into important matters that might actually lead to a solution we can offer, we get comfortable chasing strings or offering canned presentations.  How about that customer you’ve been discussing price or coverage with since the day you started in the field.  Detour.  And that message you’ve been “running with” for the last few months with all of your customers without a change in sales.  Detour.

  • What customer relationships do you need to end a detour with and get back to what matters most TO THEM?
  • What conversations are you having with customers that revolve around canned or packaged messages that seem “right” but just aren’t moving the needle?  How can you make them more authentic and real?

The life of sales leader is prime territory for getting stuck on a series of detours, too.  It’s easy to begin thinking that your job is to send e-mails, write reports, approve expenses, attend meetings, attend meetings about the meetings, attend meetings to follow up on the meetings and to circulate spreadsheets of data.  All of these activities are certainly part of the job but they can pull us far away from what matters most.  As sales leaders, we need to develop and inspire the folks on our team and deliver results.  Period.  At least that’s how I boil the job down.  And yet we spend plenty of time focused on other, less important things.

  • What items on your to-do list are paving a detoured path away from the activities that matter most for developing and inspiring your team? How can you re-frame/remove them?
  • Are there strategies or initiatives in place that looked good on paper but really aren’t moving sales and now represent a detour? Should you drop or change it?

Life and leadership will never offer a straight path and we’ll always end up stuck on some kind of detour.  That’s just part of the process.  The hope we have is finding that sign which prompts us to examine our situation.  Seeing that orange sign last week was just the reminder I needed to examine the parts of my life where I can refocus on what matters most.

I’d love to know what challenges or detours you face in your daily grind and how you approach getting locked in to what matters most…share in the comments section below!

Also – if you think anyone else in your world would appreciate this info, I’d be honored if you shared. 🙂

Have a great rest of the week!

Until next time,


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “End the Detour: Getting Back to What Matters Most

  1. There are days when I feel like the lovable and dumb dog from the movie “Up” – Dug. As he is mid sentence (yes he talks) during a pivotal scene, Dug inevitably becomes distracted by a squirrel, completely derailing his thoughts and the momentum of the movie. I try to avoid detours by focusing on the goals that I’ve documented. I have them printed and displayed everywhere – my home & business office, the bathroom mirror, the background and screen saver of my computer. It serves as a constant reminder of the important tasks that move the needle and helps keep me from getting buried in the sludge that slows me down and provides little value.

    • John – love that movie. The visual is perfect and the way you talk about making goals the guidepost for staying on track is excellent. I can do much better using that kind of strategy. The screensaver idea is awesome. Always appreciate you taking time to comment!