Like any entrepreneur, I usually find a way to relate most things back to business, whether intentionally or not. It just happened to me again, when I had the opportunity to take part in a rally race for the first time. One of the main lessons I learned from the rally experience that can be applied to running a business? The need for a focused forward vision.
The Danger of Fear-Based Focus
In rally racing, you’re always looking where you want the car to go next. It’s not about where you are or gauging where you don’t want to go. You need to look through the turn at the exit, not at the tree or ditch where you may find yourself if you don’t execute that turn properly. For most of us, this approach doesn’t come naturally. When we find ourselves in a potentially threatening situation, our instinct is to look at the danger. We fixate on what can go wrong, because that’s what we need to keep an eye on.
But professional drivers will tell you that if you spend too much time looking at a tree, cone, ditch, or wall, that is exactly where you will wind up. Your brain simply directs your hands to steer the car in the direction of your focus. As advanced steering skills start to automatically take over throttle and brake, your feet will start to steer you that way, too!
As entrepreneurs, we have a habit of stepping into the same mental trap. It’s not intentional. No one would start a business if they didn’t have a vision of where they wanted that business to go. No one would go through all the risk of innovation if they didn’t think their ideas would bear fruit. But in the midst of actually running a business, it’s easy to lose the forest for the trees and focus more on the risk than on the opportunity.
What if you lose your investors? What if someone else has already executed a similar idea? What if they did it better than you can do it? What if there’s not enough interest in what you’re doing? And it’s not just concerns of “what ifs” but present problems as well. Sometimes it seems as though all you can do is keep treading water and save your goals for a later time when you’re in a more comfortable place.
Breaking the Habit and Focusing on Vision
If you spend too much time focusing on what’s directly in front of you, you’ll likely avoid every possible pitfall. But it’s not a great way to successfully grow your business. At best, your business will start to stagnate. At worst, you’ll drive yourself straight into one of the very dangers you wanted to avoid in the first place. So how do you break the cycle?
Simply apply the same strategy race drivers break the cycle of worrying about every tree or ditch or sharp turn.
Race drivers break the instinct of focusing on the danger by training themselves to look where they want to go. They start with the end in mind. They look through the turn to the exit, as opposed to the entry point or middle of the turn. This has a subconscious effect on the body. It allows them to control the car in a way that sets it up to enter, progress through, and exit the turn for maximum speed, efficiency, and safety.
As innovators and entrepreneurs, we all have our own professional versions of loose gravel, snow, ice, or wet tarmac under our fast-moving transformation efforts. Having a healthy awareness of the consequences of mistakes along the way is great. But fixate too much on these obstacles and they’ll end your ride. Look through the turns. Trust your ability to navigate a smooth and successful progression through a challenge or important milestone.
I’m curious to hear from you if you have experienced this fixation on the problem? How did you channel your inner rally driver – and how did you overcome this challenge?