• Donald Davis

Stopping at the Gate

For about 15 years of my career, I traveled around the world. For quite a few years, regardless of where I was in the world, I would try and get outdoors and run. An excellent cure for jet lag for me was to land in a country early in the morning, go for a short early run then into the office or meetings for a full 8 hour day.

On one specific trip to Europe, I stayed at an unfamiliar location but needed to squeeze in the long run. If I was not in a city in Europe, I never chanced running on the side of the road because the roads were narrower often than what I am used to in the US, and I did not want to wind up in a hospital. I went to the front desk and asked the receptionist if there was a trail that I could run. She responded that yes, just at the bottom of the hill was a trail. Just follow the sidewalk, then you cannot miss the course. I leave the hotel then down the hill, onto a sidewalk, then there is a dirt path. I start to run on the dirt path. The next thing I know, there is a big iron gate across the dirt path tied to a fence that went way off into the distance. I turned around then ran back to the sidewalk towards the hotel, and this time the opposite direction up a painful hill, then the sidewalk ran out with no possibility of a path.

I went back to the receptionist and asked what I had done wrong. She said that I was supposed to open the gate and run on. On this day, I learned the importance of not stopping at the gate.

I am going to make a tie to this example and being a leader in life sciences. We are all going to encounter obstacles from time to time in business, life and running. What are you going to do? Turn back? Go forward? Turn right or left?

Having an idea of should I persevere or pivot is critical.

Building a life sciences company and its business-level functions, you will be presented with many gates on your journey:

  1. We need a project management team to help ensure things stay on track.

  2. We need to see where all of our projects are, and a program management team would help.

  3. We need to focus on the company’s operations so that we have the required things to make our product.

  4. We need metrics that will help the organization see where things are at all times.

  5. We need IT systems and infrastructure that will help us support our business processes.

With each of these items, much like my experience with the gate, it would have been helpful to have had someone who knew that it was okay to run through the gate.

My run that day was fantastic. I ran for ~15 miles on country trails through farms, and each gate I ran into along the way, I opened and closed the gate behind me. It was an adventurous run that, for me, became a metaphor for obstacles. This experience has shown me that when I encounter an obstacle, I am not changing my goal. I am going to go through it.

If you are having challenges and are being stopped at the gate. Send me a message and let’s talk about your challenges. I have helped companies of all sizes accelerate through challenges like these.

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