Initiate Slowly, React Quickly

Those are the words of advice I give myself and other race car drivers in tricky and challenging driving conditions, such as when it’s raining: “Initiate slowly, react quickly.”

Driving a race car on a wet and slippery track can be a daunting task, as the traction level of the tires is greatly reduced. Even more challenging, though, is the fact that the car’s tires tend to have grip… and then no grip in a fraction of a second. In other words, one can feel completely in control, and then a fraction of a second later be spinning out of control.

Sound familiar? Sounds a bit like business these days, doesn’t it? Many people claim the economy felt completely in control a few years ago. And then a day later it was spinning out of control and crashing.

When I suggest initiating slowly and reacting quickly with a race car, I’m specifically talking about the use of the steering wheel – the device you set or change the direction of the vehicle with. So, in terms of direction of a business, and handling challenging situations, one should be slow and deliberate in initiating a change in direction. And then, once the steering wheel has been turned, be prepared to make adjustments and corrections to the path you’re on – quickly.

Of course, slow is a relative term. Nothing on a race track happens very slowly. The initial turn of the steering wheel is not something a driver does too slowly. But in comparison to how quickly the driver must make a correction to control a sliding car, it is slow.

Same thing in business. I’m not suggesting that you take forever to initiate a change. In fact, often that is the main problem a business has – taking too long to make a change. But once faced with a change – a corner up ahead – make the initial change in direction relatively slowly. Ease the car into the turn; ease your staff into the change. Be smooth and deliberate. Keep the car (business) as balanced as possible.

But just like being faced with a turn in the roadway ahead, you have to make changes in direction at times. Ignoring the turn is not an option. You have to turn the steering wheel. But do it as gently and deliberately as possible.

And then, once you’ve turned into the corner, making the change in the business’ direction, be prepared to make adjustments and corrections – quickly. Catch the car’s slide before it becomes a big one, something you can’t catch. Too many people and businesses are too slow in reacting to problems. Catch it before you spin out of control.

Of course, whether driving a car or running a business, where you look is where you’re going to go. Focus on the problems and you’ll get them. Focus on the solutions and you’ll get them. Look where you want to go, and you’ll naturally steer that way. To react quickly, you need to change your focus quickly.

Practice this every way you can. Practice initiating your change in direction gently and deliberately, and then reacting and adjusting quickly. Look where you want to go, and not where you don’t want to go. Focus on the solution, not the problem. The more you practice this, the more quickly and naturally you’ll act this way in other situations.

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