In April I saw the film TT 3D Closer to the Edge and thought it was brilliant. My partner Andrew has just returned from pitting himself against the TT course, back in 1 piece I’m pleased to say. And we’re gripped by the TT Races and every night tune in for all the latest and discuss – OK I’m an arm chair expert in some aspects. However I’ve been watching the top guy’s like John McGuinness, Bruce Anstey and of course the charmer Guy Martin. How they prepare for the race and how they recover from setbacks.
The TT race is an opportunity for man and machine to conquer the toughest environment, which shows no mercy. Keith Amor came off his bike in the wet the other day, and managed to hang on to the bike long enough not to be flung in to a wall, instead he spun on his back down the road. Last year Conor Cummins came off over the mountain part of the track and bounced like a rag doll down the hill. Amongst his injuries he broke his back in several places – and is back this year to race. Not every one is so lucky and every year riders die doing what they love. They are passionate about what they’re doing, they know the risk and the thrill you get from successfully testing yourself in such extreme circumstances is the prize.
So what have I noticed amongst the best:-
Focus, clarity, determination, passion – They know what they want and why, they also live and breath their sport.
Commitment – this isn’t just to the sport, this is commitment when on the track, every corner is taken on the edge. They know they’re not going to win if they are tentative, or back off half way through. Commit to the corner and if it doesn’t work out, learn from it. Make a decision, follow it through.
Sacrifice – some of the guys there are part funding themselves. And some of those winning now started off part funding themselves.
Faith, self belief, confidence, skill & experience, as well as the ability to take feedback and respond quickly. The bike is always talking to them about the road, it’s their ability to listen and respond that let’s them lead the field. The minute they start ignoring it and thinking they know best, or are invincible, yes you can see where I’m going with this.
Teamwork – races can be won or lost on the pit stops, and of course in setting the bike up in the first place, or repairing it in time for the next race.
Resilience – Both Guy Martin and Connor Cummins had serious injuries from their crashes last year. They’re both back this year. That say’s a lot about their bodies, as well as their minds. I don’t know that I could get back on a bike and go full out again, then again that’s due to racing not being my ‘passion’. Business and specifically leadership are, and I’ve lost count of the knocks and set backs and I just dust myself down, learn from it and get back in the game.
Preparation – they’re all out there beforehand, reacquainting themselves with the course, fine tuning the bikes, and their self talk is positive.
Razor’s edge – the difference between 1st and 2nd place, can be point something of a second. Yet it’s only the winners that get remembered, and talked about.
The leaders in the TT all demonstrate the above. The followers are working on being able to do the above.
Steve McQueen once said “Racing is life – anything before or after is just waiting”. Well I’d change it to “Leadership is life – anything before or after is just faffing about.”
Great leaders in business also demonstrate the above qualities, taking up the challenge of conquering todays tough business environment. One that is also unforgiving, poor leadership can easily take a business under.
The question to ask yourself is – “are you playing to win, or playing not to lose?”