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October

2011

 
The Racer's Edge, part II
                 the Individual Within the Team

Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.

Feature Article 

  No time? Listen to the  podcast (8:11 min.) in the background while you file, exercise, ride to work, etc.

 

Quick Communication Tip

Resource Links

 

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The Racer's Edge, part II
(click for podcast)

 

In our last episode we touched on some lessons about successful teamwork that we can learn from Auto Racing, and there are hundreds more to be found if we keep digging. To shift our focus a bit for this exploration, let’s look at some insights and successful strategies from racing that are more for you as an individual.

One of the great things about viewing things from a systems-oriented plane is that we get to see "universal analogies" that can be applied to an individual or an organization as a whole, so we can apply them to our life circumstances in many different situations. Let’s take a look at a few of these “universal analogies,” and how they create versatile strategic principles.


Minimize Lateral Motion
This principle is so obvious that we can forget to keep it front and center. Auto Racing gives us a nice physical analogy to re-invigorate the concept.

Although they may look nice and smooth on TV, race tracks are often as rough and bumpy as the course you or your business are on. They've even been compared to giant cheese graters. As your car speeds around the track, the corners add centripetal force lateral to the direction you're aiming. This is why they “slide up the track” when they enter the corners too fast.

The more you slide sideways, the more the rubber gets grated off your tires. The more the rubber gets grated off, the less grip, and the worse your car handles. Add to this being more likely to get a blowout and perhaps wreck your car, and it’s pretty obvious that it’s a bad idea.

Activity that’s lateral to your chosen direction is also a bad idea. This sideways sliding uses up your resources quickly, and puts you and your organization at risk. If the activity is in line with your chosen path, it doesn’t waste your resources, and it supports you. To determine whether or not an activity is in-line, think about your peripheral vision. If you have to turn your head from your chosen course to face the new activity; don't do it.


Long View / Short View
Another lesson we can take from racing is the need to be able to hold both a long and short term view of what's in front of us. Some folks have called this far-sighted and near-sighted perspective, or a bi-focal view.

Races tend to be pretty long; often as much as 500 miles, and a driver’s car may not have the best set-up from the beginning. If you race really hard with other drivers and your car isn’t handling all that well, you’re really taking a chance of crashing yourself and others, or at least using up your tires and brakes early on. This is where patience and experience are helpful.

Successful drivers think more strategically. It’s better to let a faster, better handling car pass you early in the race. You take care of your own equipment, reduce the chance of crashing, and you can observe what they’re doing that’s working so well for them. Then during the course of the race, you’ll have opportunities to make pit stops and tweak the handling of your car. You’ll often hear these more experienced drivers being annoyed with the guys who race so hard in the beginning, when it’s just not necessary. Even runners know to “save their stuff” for the last few laps, when it really counts.

Looking at the long-term rather than reacting, you're more likely to see opportunities and strategies for achieving your goal. Reacting tends to be very tunnel-vision and single solution oriented. Responding tends to be far more broad-based and systemic, so we come up with many more strategies and solutions, and we’re in a level-headed enough state to implement them.

Keeping one eye on the long-term and one on the short-term, you can minimize or mitigate issues until you have the opportunity to address them without as much downside.


A Million Compromises a Day
When you set a car up for a given track, that track has straight-aways and a minimum of three corners (Infineon Raceway in Sonoma County has 11 curves for their NASCAR race). These curves are rarely the same in radius or banking, so each requires differences in chassis geometry, tire pressure, and suspension.

Obviously you can't include all those differences simultaneously, so the set-up will always compromise perfection in one turn for the best we can do for as many as possible.

Best case scenarios and ideals are imperative to successful goal setting, and yet reality dictates that we compromise constantly. This isn’t surrender. Quite the contrary, intelligent incremental compromises in the service of your end-goal are more likely to result in success. This requires some long-term vision again to see long-term benefits.

When compromise feels like a loss, look at your larger goal. Isn't it worth losing even a few battles to win the war? Most skirmishes are over insignificant issues, and the resistance to compromise is more often than not a "matter of principle" rather than a genuine obstruction to the goal.

In summary, we can borrow at least three lessons from champion racers:

• Minimize lateral motion
• Maintain long and short term views
• Be ready to make a million compromises a day.

Stay conscious and aware of these principles, and you’ll be a winner too..


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Quick Communication Tip

Hit Your Marks

Mapping over from the racing world to Conscious Communication, the concept of hitting your marks gets you optimized results as well. When racing, things are coming at you and by you very fast (not unlike life). This means you need to look ahead, pick points to aim for, and do your best to hit those marks.

When you’re engaged in communication that has a specific point, as opposed to a more open, relaxed conversation, you’re in a similar position to racing. Staying on point and to the point is imperative to getting optimized results. Wandering all over, jumping from topic to topic, circling back, and all the other ways communication can flow is fun, but rarely give you a sense of getting anything accomplished in a meeting. Stick to your points, make them into imaginary marks on your path, and then focus on hitting those marks consistently.


Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.


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Resource Links:


Conscious Communication - the podcast series

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Integram (TM)

Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"
Communication Excellence (Podcast Snippets)
Communication Excellence (full interview)


Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain

Kind Ambition -
2nd Edition now available

Got Blog? c
ome visit the Blog.

Character Driven - Ever want to create characters that were so believable, that people forgot they were characters?

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