I created a winning habit!
Amateur racing driver
My day job is commercial director of a large property enterprise. In my spare time I love to race stock cars.
When I attended a design sprint at the Inch, I presented with a particular problem I wanted to solve; that despite many years of thoroughly enjoyable racing, I had never won a race.
Initially, I was loathe to admit that one of my biggest dreams was to win a race and stand on the top shelf of the podium. It would have felt arrogant to have stated this desire out loud, even though it was something that had long frustrated me.
The group and facilitators gently probed, questioned and supported my until I felt comfortable in moving from ‘I just want to be a better driver’ to ‘Yes, I want to win, even if it is just a single race!’
I thought that that would be the hardest part over, but we then moved onto ‘What’s the real problem? What’s stopping you from winning?’ To begin with I looked at external factors – other drivers had better cars, they are better drivers, the track never suited me etc. Again, the group and facilitators were insistent in not letting me off the hook, in the nicest possible way.
After a while we honed in on the real, emotional, resistance to winning. It was me. I had recounted stories about the many times I had been on the cusp of winning and had not quite managed to pull it off. My stories proved beyond doubt that I was a good enough driver with a good enough car. What was stopping me was a lack of focus, of decisiveness in that critical moment. One of the group asked me ‘is that the same as ruthlessness?’ That was an awkward moment, because it is the right word, but one I found difficult to accept.
It didn’t stop there. The final insight was identifying the real, deepest, problem was my perception of my relationship with the other drivers. I was loathe to be ruthless because these are my friends, my mates. I love their company and we spend many happy hours together socialising outside the race itself. I somehow had developed a belief that if I was ruthless enough to win a race, then they would somehow like me less as a friend.
Then someone in the group asked me ‘But do they respect you?’ Ouch. That was the moment of emotional release and identification. Gaining their respect would, of course, not lead to my troupe liking me any less. It was up to me to take advantage the next time I created the opportunity.
It was with great joy that I reported to the group who participated in the design sprint with me the news of my first win. It was only a few weeks later and I attached a photo of me on the podium. Needless to say, all my driver friends were simply thrilled to celebrate my first win with me.
My background in finance, database marketing and business systems had made me sceptical of the ‘human centred approach’ to change. The group at my sprint, and my outcome, changed my mind and I am now proud of my winning habit.