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Emergency drivers use COAST. Right now, global managers can benefit from it, too.

George Carlin, the American comedian, once said, "Have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot? And anyone going faster than you is a maniac?"

Lovely observation! I’m sure this is the mental model that aggressive drivers use.

The statistics are the same all over the world. Most traffic accidents have the same root cause: low awareness of the situation. Surveys of speeding drivers bring up same causes:

  • not concentrating
  • stress
  • distraction
  • ignoring the traffic rules and regulations
  • overestimating my control
  • “blindly” following the other cars

But there is one group of people on the roads that are experts at driving fast. That’s police, ambulance, and other emergency service drivers. In many countries they are trained to use the acronym COAST.

COAST stands for more Concentration, Observation, and Anticipation, to create more Space and Time. The idea is to drive with maximum attention, so you are fully aware of the situation you are in. You’re totally switched on to what is happening around you. In practical terms when you are driving, COAST uses an attention loop: from far distance… to mid distance… to near distance… to mirrors… to what is going on in the car, and then back again to far distance.

More Space and Time allows us to focus on any potential danger, or opportunity, and to raise our concentration level to deal with it.

Now more than ever, COAST can help you lead with clarity – to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the dangers up ahead. It’s certainly not the time to be on autopilot or fixed on one point. We are living in a fast-changing situation. Nobody knows what the “new normal” will look like or when it will happen; just like no emergency service driver knows when a pedestrian will step out into the road.

Emergency service drivers care – about themselves and the people they are going to help. It’s no good crashing the car on the way to the initial incident. The executives and managers I work with care, too. In my conversations with global experts and executives, their biggest concern now is getting out of the confusion and creating clarity for their customers, staff, and suppliers.

The best way to is to scan and move quickly to proactively steer in a clear direction.  The best leaders will increasingly know what to do and where to move because they stay fully aware and open to a dynamic situation.

In short, idiots and maniacs have one thing in common: low awareness. In contrast, expert drivers and executives create clarity, which comes from greater awareness. And clarity makes sure you drive the company forward at “blue light” speeds, without taking crazy risks.

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