No, it’s not a title to a country music song. It’s the drive-time from my home to the University of Florida. And it’s the drive I’m making this week. Not because I want to do, but because I have to…and I’m glad to do it.
My daughter was heading south for grad school, and we made the long trip to help her move into her apartment, get familiar with the campus, understand her surroundings, get her launched into the next phase of her young life. But something more important happened. Windshield time.
What’s windshield time? Folks in sales may know this phrase. It’s commonly used to describe the time spent with a sales manager riding along with a sales rep to some client or prospect visits. This time in the car – windshield time – is used to coach, lead, train and encourage the sales rep to reach greater heights with their career.
I used my 15 hours of windshield time with my daughter to do the same. But I did more listening than talking, because it was my daughter that had a full range of emotions. Anxiety, hope, excitement, apprehension, concern, fear, uncertainty, and plenty more, I would think. This was her time to talk, share, explain, ask questions. And it was my time to listen but not to reply but, rather, to understand.
As a father and as a boss it’s expected that I speak, direct, solve. But it’s just as important for me as a father and a boss to just shut-up and listen. And understand. Everyone needs a voice. Everyone needs to be heard. Everyone needs to be understood. And maybe everyone’s not always looking for you to lead or direct or solve anything. Maybe they’re just looking for a sympathetic ear. Maybe they’re just looking for someone to understand their fears, struggles and concerns.
I had 15 hours to Gainesville to listen to and better understand my daughter. And, along the way, I learned some good lessons to bring back to the office.