Man sitting beside truck

The Way and The Why of Trucking

Are you a way thinker or a why thinker

By Dana Smith

What comes to mind when you hear the term, “the way of the world”? Maybe you think of the way it’s always been done. I have heard this quote many times over the years. You’re talking to someone about something, and the other person says oh, “ It’s just the way of the world.” Kind of like, “that’s the way the cookie crumbles”. But what does that even mean?

Let’s start with “the way of the world.” It’s a very general quote. It’s almost as if one has given up, and accepted that’s just the way it is, the way everyone has always done things.

An example may be that you have worked for the same company within your trucking career for 20 years, and you may have had thoughts about changing that career, but you don’t! You will have that pension at the end, the security you think you need, and off you go into the sunset, with no fear of change. I call this the Golden Handcuffs. 

Millions of people do this year-after-year. You just keep plugging away at the same job, day-after-day. Many are unhappy, but they will not make that shift. Is it money that drives them; is it fear of change, the unknown, have they settled for the status quo? Or could it be that it’s just “ the way of the world?”

Everyone has their own reasons for what they do, how they live their life, and following the path they take. Thankfully they do, as life would be pretty boring if we all did the same thing.

I have heard this quote in business as well. “We are doing it this way because that’s the way we have always done it”. That may have worked well in the old way of thinking, but it is a different world we live in now. Running your trucking business has changed. Throughout the industrial age, people went to work in labour jobs, and typically stayed until they retired. It was just “the way of the world.” 

Everyone seemed to want that job security. In trucking it was no different. A big pool of drivers were there to pick from. They had the skill to do the job, and were willing to work hard and long hours to get the job done. Trucking is a hard lifestyle, on the road away from your family, eating and sleeping out of your truck, and so on. Ask an old school driver why they have been trucking for so long, and the answer is usually “it’s in my blood”, or because their father was a driver and that’s just “the way It was”. It was a natural fit as they fell into that career.

Now let’s talk about “the why of the world”. Fast forward to the 21st century, and here we have Covid-19. The average age of drivers now is around 55 years of age. A lot of those hard working professional drivers are still out there plugging away with millions of miles of experience under their belts. 

The freight volumes come and go, and so do the drivers these days. But because a lot of drivers are reaching the age of retirement, that driver pool is becoming thinner and thinner as the days go by. Companies are now looking at new and different alternatives for recruiting.

They are looking at international drivers, women, retired veterans, and younger adults to fill the roles. Anyone and everyone that owns a truck are looking for drivers. So, how does one compete in this environment in today’s trucking world? One of the newer things I’m seeing today are sign on bonuses. These are great for the short-term, but are not a long-term solution. I use the analogy of dangling a carrot in front of someone with a big flashy number on it. 

It’s not about fancy sign on bonuses, safety bonuses, benefits, and/or new equipment that you try and offer this new generation of drivers. Yes, drivers do have to make a living and they will always want more money, but it’s about your culture. It’s about your “WHY”. Why do you do what you do everyday? What is your company all about? What is your mission and your vision for the future? What is the bigger picture? What is your purpose? This new generation of drivers wants to feel as though they are part of something bigger than just a company wanting more to make more money.

Trust, value, and family are the things that matter to today’s professional drivers. They are a generation that is working smarter, not harder. They aren’t interested in working 70 hours in seven days like we all did, which is ludicrous to begin with, and they aren’t always interested in being away from home for extended periods. You may find some that are, and that’s great, but the majority want the same things the older drivers want. Not to work themselves to death, and to have more of a work/life balance. 

I hear a lot about respect in the industry, which goes both ways. Respect is something that people think should just be there. Respect starts within yourself. If you don’t respect who you are and what you do, then don’t expect anyone else to. Think about that.

Everyone has a job to do. Please don’t undermine someone’s position, and what they do. We are all connected to the same thing. The owners have their missions and values that their company was built on, everyone on the team in the organization should help to lift people up to their highest potential, not suppress and control them. 

So, think about your own company, or the team that you’re on. Are you a “way of the world” thinker or a “why of the world” thinker? It may be the difference in creating, and having the right team, the right culture, and sustainability within your driving force, for the long haul.

Read more of Dana’s articles at themindfultrucker.com

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