We at Scott-Towers are Formula One fans. No, correction. Some of us are fans, whilst my daughter is a fanatic. A sitting-on-her-haunches-wringing-her-hands-in-nervous-anticipation kind of fanatic, where the rest of us would be holding our breaths until the lights go out; if she had her way. You get the gist.
A typical race week (of which there are 22 this year) begins on a Thursday media day with driver interviews, followed by two free practice sessions on Friday, another free practice and qualifying on Saturday and the race itself on Sunday. Our lives are scheduled accordingly and we watch avidly, supporting an array of different teams and drivers. Loyalties are often tested and it can get complicated, but we love it.
Over the years there have been so many F1 related life lessons I've been able to discern, examine and discuss with my kids, that it now warrants an automatic pair of exasperated "OMG here she goes again" eye rolls. But inspiration is everywhere if you're paying attention, especially whilst engaging with the absolute pinnacle of motorsport.
CASE IN POINT
Take a quick look at the accompanying image and you will see 20 cars on the grid at the start of a race. For the unitiated, this formation has been preceded by a Green Flag lap, where the cars have exited the pit garages and driven around the track in qualifying order to reach the starting grid. The driver on pole (i.e.: the number one driver on the grid) will start to slow the pack down about half way round the Green Flag lap. He does this because tyre and brake temperatures (amongst other things) are of paramount importance; they have to be hot but not too hot and it's a fine balancing act to be sure. Whilst the Green Flag lap puts heat into those components, if the lead driver gets to pole position too quickly, and has to wait too long for everyone else to line up behind him, his tyres and brakes are going to be cooling off, making them less safe and effective when the race gets going.
If the remaining drivers take an age to line up, or if there's an unforeseen event (like a car stalling on the grid) which delays the start protocol, the pole position driver will be waiting the longest amount of time and his car cooling down the most severely.
Assuming all is well however, what happens next has all eyes on the five red lights overhead, which will light up [slowly!] one at a time before all going out together. Then, and only then, is it "Go! Go! Go!" as the late, great Murray Walker would say, and the race gets underway. Talk about hurry up and wait. But therein lies this week's racing life lesson. My kids will be so pleased. The lesson is to be prepared to wait (for life to unfold exactly as it should in perfect time, and then when it has), be ready to go, go, go!
You see, what you may think you want - or believe that you are ready to receive - right in this very moment, may not actually be the best time for you; from a big picture perspective. Sure, I don't doubt you want or deserve it right now, but maybe you have more skills or (life) lessons to learn first. Maybe you have to bring a little more self love and care into your world before you are ready. Perhaps you have to meet someone, who's not quite ready to meet you yet. Seriously, the possibilities and variables are endless, so let's look at it this way...
Why don't we teach babies to read?
The answer is obvious, isn't it? We don't teach babies to read because they are not suitably developed to master the skill. We must wait until they are ready before bestowing the skills and knowledge, otherwise it's a waste of time and resources. Prodigies aside, you cannot force babies to grow, develop and be ready until they are ready. So there is always a right and appropropriate time for a thing, and a wrong and inappropriate time for a thing.
If we now take this back to our pole sitter at the front of the grid, the right and appropriate time to go, go, go is when the lights go out. An inappropriate time to go is either too soon (manifesting itself as a jump start and deserving of a penalty), or too late (manifesting itself as a stall or flub of some kind and an inevitable loss of position). Can you see how this might apply to your life and choices?
IMPATIENCE FOR SUCCESS GUARANTEES DEFEAT
You're human, so it's perfectly natural for you to feel impatient with your perceived rate of progress or success, but the woman on top of the mountain didn't fall there. She got there by taking deliberate and persistently incremental steps, fuelled by a no doubt reluctant but necessary patience and sense of determination, underlined by the powerful universal truth that progress is a process, not an event.
So when you're waiting, waiting, waiting, wanting to go, go, go, just think of our pole sitters who have to sit patiently - whilst absolutely consumed with competitive focus and adrenaline - and wait an eternity for those damn lights to go out. If they let their impatience get the better of them, if they're impatient for success off the lights, then they could falter and be defeated -so they must be prepared to wait and ready to go - but only when the time is right.
Here's a little exercise to help you focus your mind whilst waiting, and perhaps convince you of the virtues in holding back until the time is right. Ready? Here it is...
List all the words that look and sound great after the word "Premature ________".
I'll give you a handful of suggestions to further support my point:
Now, how many of those would you choose? How many of those are great and aspirational? How many of those scream success and mission accomplished?
So now maybe it'll be easier for you to be prepared to wait, and ready to go.
Best of luck!
To receive future blog articles direct to your Inbox, please Subscribe here.
To purchase Karan's memoir via paperback or Kindle, please click here.