Be an Ambassador: Control Your Emotions
By Don Archer
If you are a tow operator and you're wearing a uniform that bears your company's name, you are an ambassador for that business. But are you representing the business the way the owner would want you to?
When you drive down the road, are you operating the company's truck in a manner that endears their business to the community? Do you exude behavior that's expected from a representative of the business? Or are you cutting people off, flipping them the bird and, quite frankly, emphasizing the "ass" in ambassador?
Driving a tow truck can be a tough job. Impatient motorists who don't like being behind big trucks can be rude and annoying. They can tailgate, swerve in and out of traffic making dangerous moves, and sometimes be a nuisance.
But the worst thing you can do as a towman is to respond negatively.
Nothing you do is going to make a difference in the minds or actions of the other person. You can no more control the blowing of the wind than you can control the irrational emotions of a soccer mom in a Honda Odyssey, jockeying for position on the freeway.
But there is something you can control—your emotions.
To some that statement may be as foreign concept, but it's true. An ancient Greek philosopher named Epictetus once said, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to what happens that matters."
Pretty solid advice from 2,000 years ago.
For this advice to mean anything to you, you must first believe that you have the ability to control your emotions.
To many, the idea of controlling emotions reeks of being cold and uncaring. To others, it's seen as a weakness, or submissive—an unwillingness to act.
But taking control over how you react to external stimuli is none of those things. Rather, it's the ultimate sign of maturity. As the saying goes, "Meekness is not weakness; it's power under control."
If you don't control your power it can become a huge problem. When you're out there reacting in-kind to the latest road-rage incident, you are building strong neural pathways in your brain that more easily facilitate negative responses in the future. These responses can be triggered even when there is nothing to get excited about. It's basic classical conditioning.
In the early 1900s, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov experimented with dogs and discovered that if he rang a bell at feeding time, the dogs would associate the bell with food and would begin to salivate. Ringing the bell even when it wasn't feeding time would bring about the same response.
This means when you react over and over again to whatever sets you off, you may be the one who is creating the road-rage scenario. I know it sounds crazy, but if you don't accept that you have the ability to control how you react, and take steps to do so, you may be making matters worse.
The greatest part about controlling your emotions is you give yourself time to think—time to decide if responding to whatever just happened is necessary.
For example, if someone makes a careless move in front of you, is it wiser to call them on it by getting on their bumper and berating them? Or would the correct response be to distance yourself from that person?
Of course, you would want to distance yourself from anyone making reckless moves.
Remember when you're out there on the roads, you're doing much more than just towing: you're a company representative—an ambassador. It's not what happens that matters; what matters is how you choose to respond.Don G. Archer and his wife, Brenda, own and operate Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, MO. Don is also multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country. E-mail him direct at email@example.com.