Leadership Lessons From The Racetrack
Leadership can be found in the best of places. This past weekend, I drove in two races at Carolina Motorsports Park. I’m proud to say that I had two second-place finishes. Even more exciting to me was the 30 minutes I spent fighting off a much, MUCH faster DSR.
I beat him to turn one on our start and kept him behind me the whole time. The stress of that car on my backside for 30 minutes was amazing. At every corner, every breaking zone, he was trying to get close enough to pass. And every time I made a .1 second mistake, I could see him getting a little closer.
If I took a turn too fast and got loose on the exit, he was there. When we started to lap cars, I could hear his main thought, Get stuck, so I can catch you!! I don’t think I actually exhaled for 30 minutes until I went under the flagman’s stand and took the checkered flag. I should have gone straight to medical to drain off the adrenaline that was coursing through my body!
What’s odd is that the second second place might not have happened if not for the day before. During the first race, I discovered something. I found myself slowing down as I passed cars.
When I was behind another car, I was all over him. I pushed him as hard as possible to get him to make the mistake that would allow me to get by. But the moment I cleared him, I stopped pushing as hard. About three cars later, this voice inside my head said, You, uh, you here for a Sunday drive? Just because you passed that car doesn’t mean someone’s not coming after you.
I realized if someone closed in on me, my slower momentum would have allowed them to slingshot by me. At that moment, I began focusing on how to go the whole race on the edge. I believe it’s what helped me fight for so long in Sunday’s race.
In the middle of that thought process, I said to myself, This would make a great leadership blog post. Yep! Flying around a racetrack with enough adrenaline in me to kill a Thoroughbred, I thought of you guys. It lasted about .0003 seconds before I realized I still had to pilot a FORMULA CAR!!! But it still happened.
I think in leadership, there are many times when we need to have our foot on the gas. We don’t always need to run wide open, but most of the time we do. And sometimes, we have a tendency to get comfortable and slow down—only to find out that someone behind us is about to fly right by.
In those moments, we have to remind ourselves and our teams that we can breathe as soon as we get to the checkered flag. It’s not that far away, and it will be there sooner than you think. Don’t give up. As one of my pit crew guys radios me when I need to hear it, “PUSH PUSH PUSH!!”
Question: Have there been times in your life where not pushing hurt you or times when you did push hard and succeeded?