Don’t Blow It (Issue 525)

In which we are reminded that  balance and focus are critical to finishing the year strong.

We are  midway in our sales years. We have a feel for the market. We know our capabilities. We understand our competitors. And, while it’s time to boost the pace, stay focused, and balanced, and  keep our wits about us.

My personal sense of balance has been influenced for almost 30 years by a story I read in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1983. Dennis Barnhart. Only a few hours after his company had sold its stock to the public for the first time and he had become a multimillionaire, a Silicon Valley winner, a certified Big Dog, Dennis Barnhart, president and CEO of Eagle Computer, was driving home to his family, only a few hours after the big deal closed,  when his powerful red sports car veered out of control a short distance from his office and crashed into a ravine, killing him. A great, rising, company.  A family with a couple of young kids. Lost. And so was the money:  Following the accident, the company unwound its public stock offering. Lost. All lost.

Fast forward (so to speak) to the 2011 Indianapolis 500 automobile race. I watched the last 30 laps. Very exciting, nail-biting action.

Graham Rahal led for a bit but faded. Danica Patrick led but had to stop for fuel with nine laps to go. Bertrand Baguette passed Danica Patrick, but he didn’t have enough fuel, either. When Baguette went to the pits with three laps to go, JR Hildebrand lead by four seconds. I was so excited for him,  I stood, cheering in my living room, turn by turn.  Finally, in the last turn, with only 500 yards to go, he came fast up behind a much slower car and chose to pass right, to the outside of the turn. As we all watched, shocked, his car snapped from control and hit the wall, allowing the trailing second-place car to pass. Un-believable. To his credit, Hildebrand  kept his foot down and drove his damaged car to second place. But it was still… second place. Lost.

When we’re stressed, one way or the other, it’s about balance and focus, maintaining an even strain.

(You know) In Barnhart’s case, I suspect he was so high on adrenaline, so excited by his new wealth, that he mashed his foot down on the gas, and the car took off like a rocket, busted a guard rail, flew 20 feet through the air into the ravine and killed him. Tragic. Completely tragic.

In Hildebrand’s case, I suspect he was wound so tight, so pinpoint focused on getting across the finish line, that he did the ONE THING that could have put him out of the race at that point. He kept his foot down on the gas rather than lightening up to maintain control in his outside move.

OK, I’ll admit it, this may be over-anxious caution from a nut case whose growth was stunted by two guys with heavy right feet. That said, we’ve a few short months to our sales finish lines.  Where ever we are relative to goals,  see the big picture, easy on the throttle. don’t celebrate too soon,  and DON’T BLOW IT!

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