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What Rally Racing Taught Me About Business: Part I – Don’t Overthink It


Recently, I had an opportunity to participate in a 3-day rally race driving school with the amazing pros at DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie, WA. I don’t consider myself a racing nut butI very much enjoy driving, whether it be a jeep on a 4×4 trail, a BMW unlimited on the autobahn, splashing “beast mode” through rain puddles with my 5yr old, or mud bogging in Hungry Valley with friends. On occasion, I get in the car, turn to the back seat and ask my kids, “Who wants to go fast?” …no doubt a question that I’m really just asking myself, knowing in advance what the answer is.

If you know anything about rally cars whether as a driver, passenger, or YouTube spectator, you can imagine how someone with my penchant for speed and dirt would be attracted to a driving school like DirtFish.It was everything I expected and more. Three days of classroom instruction, then driving, ripping the e-brake for extreme turns, throttle-steering, and the added bonus of a mix of sun, rain and snow resulted in quintessential rally experience.

I had long suspected that from of all the various types of car or truck racing one could participate in, rally would be the most fun for me. It’s the ultimate symphony of speed, vehicle interaction, environment, and complexities of control in a seemingly perpetual state of losing control. We were not two days into the program before my friends were already talking about when we could come back for the advanced program. (Faster, more dangerous, more technical, and of course, more fun!)

As the experience drew on, I realized parallels between my professional life and the cockpit experience. I have always been a fan of applying lessons from one axis of life to another, so naturally my mind went to work. In fact, I got so lost in thought at one point that I had one of my instructors call me out. And there it was: my first life and business lesson gleaned from driving a heavily modified Subaru rally car through mud and snow in a way that would have earned me a trip to jail if attempted on the street.

“You’re thinking too much!” It was the only feedback I heard from my instructor on the second day as I tried to apply everything I had learned on day one. I was trying – all at the same time, for the first time in a car – left-foot braking, trail braking, throttle steering, late apexing, looking through the turn, turn-clutch-brake-release-throttle, and more. To top it all off, I had to navigate through mud, snow, gravel, hairpin turns and long sweeping turns in both directions, as fast as possible! How could I be thinking too much, when there was so much to think about?! But trying to memorize and analyze everything I had learned and apply it to every second of the course proved a disaster. I only frustrated myself and my instructor.

“Just relax and let your instincts take over,” he told me. “You already know what to do – trust and let it happen.” So I did. What a difference! Immediate, significant improvement, and so much more fun.

How many times do we find ourselves overthinking a problem to the point that it impedes our progress? Obviously, there is a time for analysis and deep thought, but this can have a negative impact if left unchecked. Sometimes you have to simply trust that you have all the tools necessary to find the right path. You just need to let go, trust, and let your instincts guide you.

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