Making Waves vs. Making Ripples

If you’ve been following DirtyMouth for long, you know that I’m passionate about making waves in the racing industry. My goal with everything I do, from coaching and seminars to promoting and consulting, is to help us all make the sport stronger with positive change, now and in the future.

So I bet you think you know what this post is about: making waves.

In this case, I think a lot of you will be happy to know that you’re wrong. Today I want to talk about making ripples.

But who cares about ripples when other are making waves? Me, and I’ll tell you why.

When you first start out in racing, or in anything else for that matter, you’re a beginner. From your first job to your first time playing a video game, you generally start out at zero.

And when you work at something new, you start improving. In fact, the harder you work, the more you improve. You go from tiny steps to leaps and bounds.

It’s easy to see this with rookie racers. Most struggle to make their first laps. But after some experience, they start to improve.

Once they get the car under them, they quickly shave a large chunk of time off of their laps. Then they finish their first race and begin making passes. When you get a little bit of skill and confidence, you can quickly go from last to, well, not last.

That’s making waves.

But as you get better and better, those huge improvements taper off. You might only shave two seconds off your best lap on a good night. After more experience, it’ll reduce to one. And eventually, when you’ve hit a comfortable stride, your improvement will likely plateau completely.

And that’s when it seems like the sea is calm.

That’s the tipping point for many of us. When it seems like we can’t improve any more, some just accept status quo and maintain.

But if you want to get to the next level, you have to accept that the waves of change are going to start to look like ripples.

The better you get, the more subtle your improvement will be.

The ripples will sneak up on you. You won’t always improve on the same scale as you did at first, and your brain knows that. But it’s difficult to notice the little things that you begin to improve on after the waves you’ve just ridden.

That’s making ripples.

World of Outlaws Champion Donny Schatz continues to test dozens of times each year. He’s not looking for five seconds. He’s looking for half a tenth. Or a faster pit stop. An easier component to maintain. Or a more comfortable posture.

He’s looking to improve details that don’t even cross the average sprint car driver’s mind. Things that you and I probably can’t even conceive of.

He’s looking for the subtleties and the nuances. And that’s why he’s one of the best.

He’s making ripples.

The better you get, the less drastic your improvement will be. So if you feel like you’re not getting better but you’re working at it, you’re probably (delightfully) wrong.

You just have to look for the ripples.


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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.