One of our outside sales representatives and a close “professional friend” of more than 25 years walked into the office the other morning, planted himself on one of the counter stools, leaned forward on his elbows and without a moment’s hesitation began our conversation with…
“Know what you really ought to do? You really ought to write about the inordinately high stress level that exists in this industry. I don’t think anyone realizes just how much stress there really is: how much stress we’re ALL under all the time. We don’t think about it. Nobody talks about it.
“It’s just there – all around us – every minute of every day! We just come to work and go on about our business as if it was all ‘normal.’ And, know what? I’m not sure it is… And, I’m certainly not sure it’s supposed to be.”
Looking back, I’m not even sure he took a breath. All I can remember is the look of consternation on his face. This wasn’t going to be one of our “light” or amusing “State of the Industry/State of the Aftermarket” conversations. This was a serious question about a serious problem that really demands a serious discussion if not a serious answer.
The only question I had after processing that first tidal wave of information was what could have possibly prompted it. My answer came almost as quickly as I was able to frame the question in my mind.
“Do you remember… (a competitor of his and an acquaintance of mine)? He had a STROKE! Forty-seven years old and he had a STROKE! That’s just plain wrong!”
Frankly, I’m not sure what he said next. I could see his mouth moving, and I know there were sounds being formed into words, but all I was thinking about were the three words I was still trying to process: 47, stress and stroke.
Forty-seven seems very young for a stroke in any industry. And, yet, knowing the kind of stress a high level of performance brings with it in this industry at almost every level; in almost every area, it didn’t seem all that shocking.