As we sat around the dinner table, my 17-year-old son started shovelling food down his throat. The sight was almost as unpleasant as the noise he was creating!
When my wife came home and told me that they were looking for someone to step in and drive the school bus for our church, I had no idea that she was thinking about me. They needed someone who could drive a stick-shift. Tick! They needed someone who was fully vaxed. Tick! They needed someone who was in the country. Tick! They needed someone who could fit this into their morning and afternoon routines. Hold on… you’ve got to be kidding…
The travel time between our locations wasn’t onerous, but it required shifting a lot of things around to make it happen. I was running my own business. Adding this to the mix was going to impact me on many levels. So, with a bit of planning, here are the five points that I learned from this experience that has helped me to grow my business.
1 – Time Management Is Essential
Being on the road for up to 2 hours a day, I needed to make this work for me and my business. The pickup time for the kids in our Mt. Wellington campus was 7:45am and the return trip departure time was scheduled for 3:45pm. Whilst the physical distance was only 30km each way, traffic conditions could significantly impact my day. Therefore, I had to hatch a plan.
My normal daytime routine started at 6:30am with a 90-minute walk. Driving the bus necessitated a change. The new plan meant waking up at 5:30am, showering, getting changed and heading out of the door by 6:00am. It was a 40-minute walk to where the bus was parked. I would prepare the bus and be ready to leave by 6:50am at the latest. Arrival at the Mt. Wellington campus was between 7:15 and 7:25am (subject to traffic).
The plan was to leave Mt. Wellington with a full complement of children in the bus at 7:45am, but that was difficult to accomplish given that some of the families didn’t arrive until 8:05am!
It is made clear in the Book of Ephesians, Chapter 5, verses 15 to17 that managing our time is important. “So, then, be careful how you live. Do not be unwise but wise, making the best use of your time because the times are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
2 – Educating The Parents Is Essential
It became apparent that the children were not the problem – it was their parents. We communicated via a Facebook Messenger group. My daily routine started by asking if any parents were running late or if their children were not catching the bus. This started a regular dialogue with the parents.
I used the chance to introduce myself and build a rapport with them. Soon I identified the families most likely to be late. What I now needed to do was to connect with them and get them to buy into me. This was done by putting myself in their shoes and explaining how I also had to struggle to complete chores in the morning and get my children off to the same school on time.
I added that as a business owner, I needed to be extra diligent with my time to ensure that I got things done in a timely manner. And I reminded them that taking the extra 10 minutes in the morning (or the night before) to prepare paid dividends for their children, who could arrive on time at school refreshed and stress-free!
It is scriptural for us to teach others. In Matthew Chapter 28, verses 16 to 20, Jesus conveys the great commission to his disciples. He says that they have been given authority to disciple others in the name of Christ, and that He expects them to go out and do so. In fact, he even tells them where they should do so. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
3 – Reinforcing Good Behaviour Is Essential
With strong on-going communication, celebrating the wins of leaving on time, avoiding traffic build up, and arriving early at school, I started to notice that the families most prone to tardy behaviour were starting to change. I made sure that their children knew that I had noticed them arriving earlier and encouraged them to tell their parents that they were doing an awesome job! Encouragement goes a long way.
4 – Rewarding Yourself Is Essential
As time progressed, we would be leaving the Mt. Wellington campus on time (and occasionally ahead of time!). This meant that we would return to school to drop the children off by 8:10 or 8:15am. With my 40-minute walk back home, I was not only getting in my daily exercise allocation, but I was able to get back to my office around 9:00am.
My route just so happened to take me past the local café, where I would stop off to order a flat white and a date scone. After all, it was a reward that I had earned! And, in case you are wondering if it is biblical to be rewarded, let me point you to one of my favourite scriptures in the Book of Hebrew, Chapter 11, verse 6 that says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
5 – Focusing On The Right Things Is Essential
I now knew that I had to be focused between 9:00am and 3:15pm, Monday through Friday. This was the time that I allocated for my business.
It is easy to be distracted by ‘white noise’ that surrounds us. If I needed to have a client meeting, I would ask, “Can we do that virtually?” as this helped to save unproductive travel time in my day. I was already on the road for up to 2 hours – why would I want to spend more time on the road?
Staying focused on the right things can be a challenge. In the Old Testament, we are encouraged in the Book of Joshua, Chapter 1, verse 8 that, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
WHAT DID I LEARN FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
Well, the first thing that I learned is that I got attached to the children and their families. As a motivational leadership teacher, I wanted to bless each child and their family. I gifted a copy of my book ‘Leading From The Stop’ to the parents and made sure that the older children received a copy of John Maxwell’s book ‘Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn For Teens’. I believe that it is important to invest in others and to leave a legacy.
I understood that when life throws you a curve ball, make sure that you don’t panic and take things in your stride. Start to plan ahead to make sure that you can fit it all in. What I found was that my business has continued to grow even though I had less time to dedicate to it.
Now that the original driver is back in the country and able to reclaim his rightful role as bus driver, I have handed back the keys and taken ownership of navigating the way for my own business.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elias Kanaris helps leaders lead. He is a thought leader in the area of resilience, leadership and building trust. Elias is an author and speaker. He has written three books on leadership, resilience and finances, and has spoken in 13 countries, on four continents.
Elias is the CEO of the Insight and Strategy Group and has served as President of the Global Speakers Federation (2018-2019) and was the President of the National Speakers Association of New Zealand (2015-2017). He is also a Founding Partner of Maxwell Leadership® – the largest and fastest-growing leadership training organisation in the world – where he is a certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker in the Maxwell Methodology®.
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