Wednesday, September 2, 2015

‘Don’t quit when you’re tired. Quit when you’re done!’

Today I got a copy of a Qualcomm message sent out to a trucking fleet. In signing off of the message, the company representative included a well-used sports motivational quote: “Don’t quit when you’re tired. Quit when you’re done!”

I knew the phrase well, but it didn’t stop my jaw from dropping. I grew up playing sports, went to college on a basketball scholarship. My kids are all driven. Sports motivational sayings are a common occurrence on the fridge or bathroom mirror around our house.

Give it all you’ve got. And then do it again.

Leave it all on the field.

Bust your a@# to beat theirs.

Winners never quit and quitters never win.

There are a million of them, and it’s hard to have not heard at least some incarnation of a sports motivational quote applied to “regular” life. Be it your job, your relationships, your …

Sports imitate life. Until they don’t.

Trucking is not a game. It is one thing to be finishing up a practice or workout, thinking you’re drained, that there is no gas left in the tank, and finding the energy for one more push-up, one more sprint, one more… That’s finding strength and character.

Being behind the wheel of a truck and worn slap out, pushing for one more mile, one more stop. There’s no strength or character in that. It’s irresponsible. And to suggest anything but taking care of yourself and getting off the road is reckless.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, after the initial message went out, the company followed up with another one. It said the quote was out of context and reiterated the point of the initial message was to encourage drivers to use all available hours.

In the meantime, I reached out to the company and got the same basic explanation back via email. That email to LL was quickly followed up by another Qualcomm message to drivers. In that one, the company apologized for the quote and told drivers to listen to their bodies and “we never want to put the motoring public in danger.”

Later in the day, I also got a called from another executive with the company who wanted to emphasize that it is a safety first company and that the company is embarrassed the message went out to their drivers.

I get it. They are sorry. They wish it had never gone out. Maybe in the end, safety and smart driver decisions related to their own fatigue will be respected.

The problem is that while I’m using one line from one Qualcomm message from one company as an example here, there is a pervasive mindset among fleet executives throughout the industry that hours of service are to be maximized.

We hear all the time about productivity gains; that’s PR code for drivers working more hours.

Punching numbers on a calculator, figuring and ciphering miles against available hours takes the driver out of the end equation. The driver who is responsible for getting him or herself safely to the destination with that fleet’s freight intact.

Real world happens in the cab of that truck. That’s where the bottom line really is.

The industry fleet execs can preach that driver treatment is important and that it needs to improve. But until they quit formulating company policy off of number crunching and motivational posters meant to help you achieve those ripped biceps, it’s going to be up to every driver – just like every athlete – to know when to say enough is enough. I’m done for the day. That’s the only way you ultimately survive one day so you can live another day.