A couple of years ago, my wife, Laura, and I were in Toronto visiting some very good friends there. When they invited us to a go-kart track, I was thrilled. I love the feeling of pushing limits, of being as close to out-of-control as possible. And while go-karts don’t go as fast as I’d like, it’s hard not to lean forward and smile broadly, waiting to overtake the guy ahead of me.
I remember thinking about the physics of driving: Thrust, momentum, inertia, traction and, most interestingly, the dramatic weight shifts as a car accelerates and slows. This was the little insight that changed my driving forever.
And it may change how you do your work.
Through tight corners and short straightaways, I found myself lapping everyone. My go-kart wasn’t any faster or more powerful than the others, but something changed in my driving style that affected everything. And it was fantastic!
What did I discover? Think of fuzzy dice that hang from many a rearview mirror. Upon acceleration, they swing toward the rear of the car.
Certainly you’ve seen the front end of a drag racer come off the ground. That’s because the weight of the vehicle has shifted to the rear tires.
In the same way, when we apply the brakes, the weight shifts to the front, onto the steering wheels.
Knowing this, I changed my tack. I’d approach the corners as fast as I could, then I’d slam on the brakes. This shifted the weight of the go-kart to the steering tires, allowing me to obtain much better traction through the corners.
Coming out of the corners, I’d stand on the gas pedal, shifting the weight to the power wheels in the rear.
This simple change had amazing results. While the other drivers spun through the turns, I stuck to the pavement like a car on rails. No one could compete with me!
Now it’s your turn. Let’s apply this thinking to your work.
Leaders: As you move your organization forward, thrust is placed on the rear driving wheels, the employees.
You must trust them implicitly to gain and keep traction. If you can’t, you’ve got a big problem … and it’s yours to fix.
Conversely, as momentum slows, the weight shifts back to you, the steering wheels.
Followers: During acceleration, it’s all on you. You must absolutely trust your leader’s steering: The course and the direction. If you can’t, stop complaining about the driver and get out of the car.
Without trust throughout your entire organization, your go-kart is going nowhere.
Trust and thrust. These principles of physics apply to go-karts as well as they do in our work. If there is no trust, forget the thrust. But when you have both, you’ll lap everyone else on the track.