Making the Pit Stop | A Conversation with Maureen Monte Part 3 of 4

In part 3 of 4 of my interview with StrengthsFinder Expert and Destination Unstoppable Author Maureen Monte, we explore the importance of Making the Pit Stop. In the book, she shares the story of the Cranbrook Varsity hockey team that was riddled with a case of exceptional talent that just couldn’t seem to line up. Maureen was able to introduce Strengths to this team a little beyond half way into the season, and the rest is history. In our conversation, we discussed four of the keys that Maureen was able to turn for the team. She draws on her own wisdom from her tenure on corporate teams as well. Our conversation and the book was so insightful that I simply had to share some of the key applicable points that I encountered through our discussion.
  • The Unseen Importance of the Leader
  • Valued for Being Valuable
  • Make the Pit Stop
  • Stay in your Lane

As we spoke, Maureen asked me if I had ever seen a winning Indy Car race, where the driver never made a pit stop. The answer was a definitive No. Maureen explained the importance of the pit stop. It is quick and efficient, but it provides just the adjustments, changes and alignments needed to really set that driver and car up for success. Within weeks of our conversation a dear friend of mine, Eric Whitley, the CEO of Energy Consulting Company, GridSME, told the tale of the best marathons he ever ran, which involved walking for 2 minutes intentionally each mile. It gave his body just a short chance to re-energize, re-calibrate and perform consistently.

In organizations, we often find cultures that are so execution-centric, that they lose sight of the importance of the pit stop. You hear the notion of “We don’t have time for this.” This story keeps people very focused on the short term and continuing to drive toward the finish line, when actually stopping briefly would allow for a much more effective journey to the finish line. People are one of the greatest and underdeveloped resources that many organizations have. It is remarkable how much organizations will invest in technology, systems, infrastructure, property and other resources, and then NOT invest in the true gasoline that fuels the organizational engine…the PEOPLE.

Taking care of the Organizational Lifeblood: Your People

If you have built the most incredible body capable, but remove the blood from it, the body fails and will not sustain. Take care of your people and they will take care of your organization, they are truly the lifeblood.

Making the pit stop, is realizing that taking the time to invest in developing your people through Strengths is incredibly valuable in aligning the team and really tapping into the lifeblood, your people. Much like you won’t achieve million dollar health on regular consumption off the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant, you won’t achieve top notch organizational performance off of not investing in developing your people. Much like keeping our blood healthy comes from what we input into our bodies is a framework for investing in our personal health, making the pit stop and investing to maintain and accelerate the health of our organizational lifeblood, the people, keeps the organization healthy and can make it perform even better.

It is the process of sharpening the saw regularly allowing you to cut far more effectively, efficiently and expeditiously, than continually plowing forward with a dull blade that is continually getting duller. Many organizations are so focused on simply continuing to cut, they fail to even think about what sharpening the saw would contribute. To paraphrase the Oracle of Omaha, Mr. Warren Buffett:

The most important thing to do when you realize you are in a hole is to stop digging!

Sometimes stopping is the most important progress that can be made. How can taking the pause and making the pit stop to evaluate where you are on the course be beneficial? How can it contribute to ensuring the team is aligned and the right people are making the contributions that they are uniquely capable of. It begs the question, is your team, or organization in survival mode or growth mode? Are you not even aware that you are in a hole, because you continue to dig, not realizing the most important thing that should be done is to stop? If you are continuing to work with a dull saw or digging when you are in a hole, you are likely in survival mode. Is your organization there, or have you been there in previous roles? I know I have in the past, and making that pit stop was fundamentally one of the inflection points that positively impacted the course of where I was actually headed versus where I thought I was headed. If your team is always in “firefighter” mode, but you aren’t a fire department…it is definitely time for a pit stop…Don’t be afraid to make it, it is potentially one of the most important things you can do.

P.S. If you haven’t checked out Destination Unstoppable…you definitely want to do so. With the Holidays around the corner it is also a great gift idea that will make a meaningful impact. Click HERE


Darren Virassammy is Co-Founder and COO of 34 Strong Inc. a leader in Employee Engagement training and consulting. 34 Strong works with organizations across the United States in developing teams around talent to optimize performance and maximize results. His Top Five are: Achiever, Arranger Relator, Learner, Responsibility. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, or Twitter. Check out a 2 minute highlight video from one of Darren’s recent keynote talks HERE.