The most valuable leadership lesson learned on a racetrack

The most valuable leadership lesson learned on a racetrack

Years ago I owned a 1992 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo with 320 horsepower that would rocket to 60 mph in a little more than 4 seconds. It was a car that I purchased while living in California and helped satisfy one of my passions. A friend suggested that I take it to Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. The instructors taught many valuable lessons that day about driving fast safely, when to brake, how to accelerate, the proper “lines” to take. One message stood out above the others. “The farther you look ahead on the track, the faster you will be able to go.”

Just last week, during a spring break road trip with the family, I shared this same message and then realized that it was appropriate not only for racing but also as a general life philosophy.

Great leaders are visionaries and do not only look at today, but also tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. Tactical leaders look at what needs to be done today.  Strategic leaders are looking into the future to lay plans for accomplishments today that will allow future goals to be met.

On the racetrack I hit a top speed of 120 mph on the straightaway. On the curves and bends of  the road track, I reached 85 mph for my top speed. Had I only been watching the next immediate turn, I would have needed to go much slower. By looking at the next three turns, I was able to increase my speed and anticipate my next move of the steering wheel. This allowed me to go faster.

In business (and in life), the further out that you are able to look, the faster you will be able to go. If you are able to save for retirement now, establish a college fund for your children, you should also be able to start working on your marketing plan for 2012 and begin to have those rate increase conversations with your customers now. Godspeed!

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