Traction Management System

Background

Many of the world’s greatest race car drivers are typically masters of tire management. Tires are the singular point of contact between a vehicle and the road, but they’re often the most overlooked item on the car.  Why are tires so important? Because tire traction is essential for drivers to be able to effectively get to where they want to go. Traction is constantly distributed in three different ways: turning, accelerating forward and braking. These three actions are essential to racing, and in the automotive industry, adjustments to traction is known as a Traction Management System, or TMS.  What happens when drivers ask more from the tires than the traction that’s available? They slide. They lose grip. The tires squeal and don’t go in the direction they were aiming for. Ultimately, this means that race car drivers are often passed by their competition. 

These quotes hit the nail on the head when we think about our "race" or pursuit of excellence!

“If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough.” ― Mario Andretti

“Speed has never killed anyone, suddenly becoming stationary… that’s what gets you.” ― Jeremy Clarkson

Application

Here are a couple key ideas or thoughts from above translated into helpful terms as they relate to leadership:

  • Masters of tire management = masters of "self" management
  • Our traction is distributed in 3 ways:
    • Turning = making adjustments in direction based on life's many curves
    • Accelerating forward = giving 100%
    • Br aking = knowing when to slow down
       
  • Poor traction results in:
    • Slide/lose grip = spinning out of control and slow to adjust; or incapable of adjusting
    • Squeal = over-exertion with no output; false starts
    • Misdirection (don't go in direction aimed) = repeating the same mistakes 

If self management is like traction, and poor self management results in things like: spinning out of control, over-exerting one self with little of no results, or repeating the same mistakes and never reaching your target, what do we need to do to ensure we develop effective self management?

Here are some areas to focus on:
Vision: First, you need to know your target.  It's a lot easier to navigate the race track of life if one knows where there roads leads.  What's your vision for yourself?  Look 5 years into the future and ask yourself: "where do I want to be doing in 5 years?"  Or, "what do I want to have or not have in 5 years?"  Or, "what kind of influence do I want to have in 5 years?"  It could be any number of questions - the point is, set your course, or someone else will!

Goal setting: Develop a plan to make your vision a reality by setting intermediate goals and milestones.  The easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, so set annual goals that support your 5-year plan.  Then set quarterly and monthly goals that support your annual plan.  Review these goals weekly to ensure they remain in focus.  Getting to where you want to go doesn't happen by accident - it requires planning and focus.  

Time Management: time management is key when it comes to traction, or staying on course.  Time is a precious commodity, and once it's spent you can never recover it.  Focus on your goals and make sure your time is well spent.

Discipline: Discipline is required to for consistently make good decisions and staying on course.  Self-discipline is one of the toughest things for many people.  One tool I've found incredibly helpful for self-discipline is the power of accountability.  Share your goals and plan with a close friend or mentor who can encourage, support, and get up in your grill if need be.  Another effective way to develop discipline is to reward if certain milestones are achieved.  Lastly, try to imagine what it would feel like to achieve your goal - hang on to that feeling as it's also great motivation to remained disciplined.

Flexibility: Life's unpredictable, and successful people have a knack for quickly adapting.  The image of a race car "cutting on a dime" is a good example.  You cannot be so focused on an outcome that you lose sight of track and miss a curve.  For instance, let's say I want to grow sales by $1mm by the end of the year, and so I pour all my efforts into maintenance sales.  All of the sudden, an opportunity to land a large landscape install comes my way but I fail to focus on it because "I'm all in on maintenance sales."  Maybe the track was leading to growing the business through construction sales, not maintenance sales, and I missed it because I was too focused on what I thought was the track.  

Suffer: I saved the best for last.  Almost nothing worth while comes easy, unless you're one who's blessed with an amazing metabolism (curse you!) or you happen to win the lottery.  Success requires suffering - there's no way around it.  I've found it's much easier to accept suffering if I anticipate it.  I know for instance if I want to lose 10 pounds, I'm going to suffer through controlling my diet.  No more chocolate chip cookies - OUCH.  No more pizza - OUCH.  Suffering to be successful at Crawford will require longer hours, and for some, longer hours in 95 degree temperatures with 100% humidity - OUCH.  

In closing, become a master at self-management.  Set a vision for yourself, determine a plan, be flexible and willing to adjust, and lastly be willing to suffer through the pain to make it happen.  The payoff is worth it.  See you on the other side!