High School football is a great place to learn life lessons. Just a few include: (1) teamwork and planning leads extraordinary success, (2) hard work pays off, (3) how to win with grace, (4) how to lose with dignity, and, lastly, punishment is capricious and arbitrary.
Once upon a time, while I was playing football in high school, we lost a big game to a cross county rival. I did my job just fine. I blocked as I should, pushing myself and my opponent the extra yard. Not once did the guy across the line of scrimmage from me take part in any tackle. He never laid a finger on the quarterback or running back, and I did this without landing a single penalty. However, when the time came to pay for the loss, we all took the hit.
At the time, we had a punishment that has since been banned in most high schools as it was both cruel and unusual and was certainly banned by the Geneva Convention: the dreaded belly-flop. It was a torturous drill that involved chopping your feet as fast as you can, as you moved forward in increments of five yards and then hitting the ground – belly first (hence the name) on each five-yard line when the maniacal, spittle-spewing coach blew his whistle, only to spring back to our feet and continue on our perilous journey up and down the dirt covered practice field. Regardless of my personal efforts and my on field successes, I too had to join in the cloud of dust churned up by the 20 guys on the team going goal line to goal line.
With the final chirp of the whistle, covered in dirt, mud caked sweat, and literal tears, we aimlessly staggered back to the locker room, dizzy in a state of complete exhaustion. From guys that didn’t even play in the game to teammates that played flawlessly, at least in my opinion, we all joined in the same fate as those that missed blocks, dropped passes, and whiffed on tackles all game long. Capricious and arbitrary indeed. It was a hard lesson to learn, that generalization and stereotyping of the group meant punishment for all. We were all wearing the same uniforms so we must be equally to blame. At least that was what the coach said.
This translates to the business world smoothly and seamlessly. When I say “used car salesman,” how many picture the caricature instead of the individual? When I say, “computer programmer,” how many close their eyes and in their mind conjure up the image of an anti-social, bespectacled nerd? They are punished and scorned because of the pattern of the group. In the elevator industry and business, one stereotype keeps popping up that, no matter how wrong it may be, we all have to pay for. The label we have received is that we are slow to respond and hard to work with.
The generalization is so bad that one construction project manager confided with me that if an elevator installer says a job will take a certain amount of time, he multiplies that estimate by four and is ready for a steady stream of excuses. These excuses come in the form of bad weather, other trades getting in the way, a back order of parts, and poor planning from everyone on the project other than the elevator installer themselves.
As manufacturers of elevators, some of that stereotype rubs off and we have to sport the black eye just like the rest of the industry despite our best efforts to break from the mold of conventional thought. So we can understand the skepticism when we say that a high-quality commercial elevator can be built in just three weeks, have a lead time from drawing approvals to shipping of just eight weeks and be installed in one week or less. To many that know the industry from a consumer’s perspective, that seems unrealistic and quite frankly impossible.
But, it is true. When we at Phoenix Modular Elevator say eight weeks, we mean eight weeks. We have a fantastic process and crew that knows how to get the elevator completed for delivery on time, every time. We utilize one of the other life lessons I learned from high school football and this lesson has nothing to do with belly-flops. Instead, it’s that great teamwork and planning leads to extraordinary success.