Are YOU on the Right Track Part 1

“You are the conductor of your own train – it is your responsibility to set the speed and keep the fuel levels where they need to be to arrive at your chosen destination…” — Rick Cox

I have held many different types of jobs and positions throughout my life. These have ranged from: drywall contractor; plumbing/electrical contractor; general contractor; owner of an Equipment & Leasing company; owner of an air balance company in the mechanical engineering field; HVAC commissioning agent/company; Indoor Air Quality Company and expert, and an HVAC Systems Cleaning specialist. I have also been a Pastor, Marriage Counselor and Radio Host. My wife and I were also co-owners of a restaurant for which we built the building and owned the property. Although I still own a small part of an air balance company in Texas, my major focus has been the pharmaceutical company, which my family and I run today (along with our fantastic employees). While a few of these businesses did well, others did not. The ones that did well I now know could have done better, for I now understand the reason they were not as successful and that is the topic of today’s Insight & Inspiration.

For many of those that know me it may come as a shock to learn I have struggled with leading and being a leader. Allow me to explain. I have always known from as early as memory serves, I would own my own business. I have always believed in my ability to would work hard enough to make. I was not sure however, if I was if I was smart enough or wise enough. None the less, I did believe if I could do it then anyone and everyone could do it as well. Additionally, I have always been amazed at why people would listen to or follow me; bewildered as to why they were not doing this on their own for I believed most to be at least as smart if not smarter. I found you don’t have to be the smartest; you simply have to get on the right track to wind up at your desired destination.

This may sound odd for a person who has been a business owner as long as me; it none the less has been the truth for most of my life. It wasn’t until a few years ago sitting at an intersection where a train was crossing I came to know why. While waiting for the train I thought of the conductor of the train; the person responsible for preparing the train, loading the train and making sure it arrived at the correct destination with its cargo safe and on time. It was his train to conduct. The train and its cargo, whether that be people or freight was his responsibility and his alone.

Although I have done many things, one differed from all others: being a pastor. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but also very rewarding. The other companies were contracting of various sorts. I find contracting in any form to be contracting. Even though that which is contracted may be different the end result is the same. One of those companies, an air & hydronic balance-company on large commercial and industrial HVAC systems, was very successful as long as I was responsible for all oversight. When the company grew larger than my personal ability to manage, it floundered, as did some of the other entities I had owned, but did not personally manage. What came to me while sitting there was why the church and other companies did not do well?

I know it takes a vision and passion to run anything and I had a vision for the church as well as those companies so, what was the issue? Why did one company do well, but not the others? I thought of the church for which I was the pastor for five years, and though giving it my all, the congregation was eventually merged with another church. I had the right heart, and the sermons I was told were great, but something was missing. The contracting companies appeared to be built on solid ground and seemingly had vision behind them with the right people and good workmanship, but something here was missing also. There was something wrong I just couldn’t see it.

The problem lay in the fact I did not lead. I had hired the leaders, but was not leading the leaders for they needed leading as well. I had overlooked the BIG difference of being a conductor of a train versus being the owner of the train. One has a vested interest while the other gets a paycheck. As simple as this seems, I believe the reason this never occurred to me was because I have always done my absolute best for everyone for whom I have worked therefore, I had felt I should receive the same in return. My golden rule was to do unto others as I would have them do to me. Since this was how I lived, I expected the same in return. Not everyone however, has this code of conduct. How naïve of me? Though I had been burned previously, I didn’t believe it would happen again alas, it always did.

As stated, I did know the conductor of the train was responsible for getting the right freight to the proper destination, intact and on time. As a matter of fact, I did this very well when I ran a single business, but not well while managing many. I wasn’t looking at each business as a separate train. I didn’t see each conductor of each train needing to be managed to the degree, which I have since found was necessary. Conductors do need to be managed for the conductor of the train doesn’t own the train, he/she simply manage the responsibilities for which that train has been assigned. Each conductor has the sole responsibility of making sure that specific train is on a specific track, traveling at a specific speed for a specific course carrying a specific freight with a specific amount of fuel as well as a specific amount of staff. By doing the above the conductor is making sure the train was not overloaded with excess freight or carrying additional weight from excess fuel or adding the cost of excess labor thus, making the trip safe and profitable.

While I understood all of the above there was something I was missing. I knew of the many requirements for getting to my assigned destination or goal, but there were two key necessities when it came to business, which I overlooked. These same necessities are often overlooked by individuals who work for others or when it comes to leaving our future in the hand of someone else.

Best of LUCK as you
Labor Under Correct Knowledge…


Rick Cox