The Red Mist
There are two types of racing that I love: alpine skiing and formula car, both of which I continue to participated in. Growing up in Tahoe we tore teams apart on a regular basis. We were a bunch of misfits, kinda like the Bad News Bears. Some of the kids were from broken homes and some from broke families, but put us in the gates and step back. There were times that we would go to a ski hill and the team there would have matching jackets, pants, hats, everything. They would make fun of us for a while, but that only added fuel to the fire for us. When we got to the awards ceremony we were the ones with big grins. To this day whenever I go skiing I have to find a place with a race course and crash the gates.
Over the past few years I have been racing formula cars. I started in a Formula 2000 and worked my way up to a Formula 3 (pic above). The funny thing is that you never lose that desire to blow everybody away. From the moment I got in the car, all I’ve wanted to do is win…and have fun…but mainly win. Which I did my first race at Sears Point in Sonoma. So it came as no surprise to me what happened at Mid Ohio. I was racing way out of my league with guys who have raced several years longer than me. I was working my qualifying laps just trying to put down some good times and not worrying about the better drivers. I had a bad exit out of one of the turns, so I was passed by two cars going into the next turn. And that’s when everything changed.
I totally forgot about my times and completely focused on running down those two cars. I caught one six turns later and dove really hot into a hair pin. I made it but got really loose, lost the back-end but caught it in time. This cost me momentum, and all I could think about was catching the other guy. In that moment I made a decision that would…thwart my plans. I short shifted in a corner taking away all power to the wheels that were holding me like glue on the track. It was a stupid mistake that I KNEW not to do, but I did it. I lost the back-end, headed for the concrete wall. I worked that steering wheel back and forth like Miles Davis and John Coltrane trading solos! (If you don’t know them, shame on you! Look up their competitions.) By the grace of God I caught pavement, whipped it in the other direction, and went off the side of the track with the gravel trap.
When I was in the pits explaining it to another driver he said, “ahhhh, you saw the red mist!” It’s an old road racing term that means you’ve become so focused on something that you begin to make bad judgments. All you see is a red mist. That was me!
I think some of us have a tendency to do that in life from time to time. As sales people we want to beat every salesperson around us. As leaders we want to be smarter and have better ideas than other leaders. As administrative people we want to serve more, better, and faster than others. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s when it becomes the driving force, and all we see is winning no matter what the cost. That’s when we make fatal errors.
What are some ways that you have experienced red mist?