Risk to Lose to Win

Over the weekend I have attended the Friday session of one of my favorite sporting events; the NHRA races in Vegas.   That they are in Vegas is incidental, but the drag races themselves are fascinating and exhillerating.  And whether you are a car fan or not, there are some valuable lessons to be garnered from these events.

For those of you (likely many) not familiar with the formats for drag racing, it boils down to this: a team (yes, the driver gets the glory but the team makes it happen) gets four qualifying runs to post the beat e.t. (elapsed time) for the run (traditionally 1/4 mile).  Based on e.t. drivers are ranked and seeded in a single elimination series of rounds.  If you aren’t one of.the top 16 qualifiers, you don’t race in eliminations. 

Most teams work very hard to make the first run good enough that they can then experiment with car set up to try and get a slightly faster run.  The teams also understand that the more they experiment the greater the chance that they will have a catastrophic failure, which in the world of drag racing means exploding engines, fireballs, and not finishing at all. But they all accept the risk, knowing that sometimes losing a single run gives them valuable information about what it will take to be successful in eliminations.

I think that life is more like that than we realize. When I approach each day as an opportunity to tweak things a little, to make some minor adjustments in one area or another in the hopes of getting a slightly better result, the day becomes more productive. It also sometimes goes wrong, but that information is just as valuable.

In drag racing, a failure in a single.run down the track is disappointing, but most teams respond by sayings, “We’ll rebuild it and be ready for our next run.”

And that’s how I try to live each day.

What do you think?

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