I had an epic day yesterday, in which I got nothing on my to-do list crossed off. The epic-ness stemmed not from what I did, but from what I learned about the process of building something you love. Something that you’re proud of.
You racers ought to be able to relate.
You pour your heart and soul – and all the money, time and energy you can muster – into building your race team. The first time you race, the goal is just to get that car on the track and turn left as many times as you can without screwing up. Your goals change as you gain knowledge and experience – you go from wanting to finish a race to shooting for victory lane.
Racers know especially well that no matter how much you accomplish, you always want more. Successful local drivers want to go on tour. Tour drivers want to win more races. Winning drivers want to win championships. Championship-winning drivers want to grow a mustache like Fred Rahmer’s.
There’s always room to improve.
But sometimes, you can get so caught up in achieving the highest possible goals that you stop yourself from doing anything.
I’ve personally fallen into this trap. For months, I didn’t write anything here because I wanted everything I wrote to be perfect. I didn’t see anyone else putting out the type of content I wanted to write, so I didn’t either.
No one learned anything about me and my goals. And I didn’t help anybody achieve theirs, either.
If we’ve ever met, you know I’m pretty quiet – I’ve got to be really passionate about something to talk about it. Because of that, very few people know my background – that I’ve been a promoter, that I’ve worked with celebrities on social media and public relations, that I hold an engineering degree from an Ivy League university and have ad agency experience.
And whose fault is that? Mine, and only mine. Because I haven’t shown up as often as I could have.
Sometimes when I take a step back, I realize how much I can learn from how a team builds a car. If you waited until every single piece on your car was exactly perfect – whittling every radius rod and dzus button by hand – you’d never race. And I know by the amount of duct tape and zip-ties I see on the average car that that’s not how it works.
You guys have it figured out – even the winning car isn’t perfect. But that team did two things: they showed up and they did it before they were ready. And they did it over and over again, learning and improving, until they were the best car on the track that night.
Yesterday, I unexpectedly spent my entire day talking to people who love racing. I worked on deals that could potentially change the course of my business, as well as my clients’.
And six months ago, I didn’t know any of these people. In fact, I didn’t even reach out to them. They found me. And that happened because I started showing up consistently, even before I was ready.
I have most of the same credentials and mindset I had a year ago, but the difference is that now a few more people know about them. Because of this blog. Because of my Twitter account and those of my clients. Because of our Facebook fan pages.
I read an article recently by marketing guru Seth Godin about our lizard brain (sounds as weird as it is) and how it stops us from ‘shipping’ our work. He advises that we ship, and ship often. Sometimes, he recommends that we even ship lousy stuff because, in the end, it’s better than not shipping.
And I got it, or at least I did in theory. But it took fielding a few amazing phone calls and emails to realize that taking those leaps and getting uncomfortable over and over again will actually pay off.
Thank you, race teams, for inspiring me. Thank you, everyone who shows up in this racing world, for teaching me a lesson. I hope that when you think about writing that tweet or sending that sponsorship proposal, you first do your absolute best to make it great and then – for goodness’ sake – SEND it. And then do it again and again.
I’ll keep doing the same. And hopefully, we’ll build something great together in the future.
P.S. If you’d like to read the Seth Godin article, as odd as it sounds it’s definitely worth sticking through to the end. You can read it here.