The last thing I imagined myself doing this past summer was racing Porsches in Alabama. It just goes to show you how life's curveballs can come at any moment. An invitation from a friend turned into a life-changing experience. I discovered a sense of oneness in the last place I expected; behind the wheel of a 911 Carrera S at over 100 miles per hour on a real racetrack.
The Porsche Sport Driving School is at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Parkway about 30 minutes outside Birmingham, Alabama. World class instructors, incredible cars and two intense days learning about everything from braking and turning to shifting and sliding in the rain, put me in a mode where I was ready to test the limits of my faith in a high performance automobile.
One of the most profound things I realized in that incredible two days is how powerful an analogy high performance racecar driving is to life. The experience of driving simply compresses it into the hyper fast version of it.
The most important thing a racecar driver must know is exactly where they are headed. That's why each lap on the track naturally gets faster as the driver gets more confident with where they are going at each blind turn. One of the most critical things they teach you about driving at high speeds is to always be looking at the farthest point on the track horizon. It takes a bit to trust this and to continue to stretch your neck and eyes to a further and further focal point, but when I was able to do this I realized something really amazing. I discovered that when you focus on a destination point everything seems to go on automatic pilot to help get you there. Your footwork, hands, and natural instincts take over and the car gets right on line. Somehow looking at the farthest point on the horizon relaxes you into the process more, and in racing the smoother the car goes the more you shave off valuable lap time. In other words, you get to your destination quicker.
They say in driving that the car goes where the eyes go. In everyday life your experiences go where your beliefs go.
Because of the speed you are traveling at, focusing on what you need to do next or even in the next 200 to 300 hundred feet does not help you. By the time you think about it it's too late and you're off track. You cannot be myopic in racing. You have to think bigger picture and from a bigger more macro perspective. To be fast you have to be way ahead in your mind in terms of where you are focused on going and how you are going to get there.
This offers a powerful analogy to life. When you set an intention, dream, or goal, your subconscious immediately begins to work on putting all the conditions together necessary to help you achieve your intention. If you're stuck in the past or busy with woulda, coulda and shoulda, it slows you down. A driver cannot think about what just happened or what's happening where they are, they must already be focused on the moves they are going to make many hundreds of yards ahead of them. They have to be proactive versus reactive. Just the slightest amount of hesitation or tension can put them on the wrong line entering a turn or trigger an over correction of the wheel or braking causing precious fractions of second to be lost. It has to be the perfect blend of peace of mind and intense focus to keep the car perfectly aligned and balanced throughout the race. It has to be about "doing" not "thinking". The best drivers know that worry adds time. This is the exact same with your goals. Worry adds time.
Think how fast you could move through life toward what you wanted if you were proactive about it versus reactionary about it? You wouldn't waste time sweating the small stuff and you would be laser focused on where you are headed. Nothing in the short term would have the power to take you off track. This could be with relationships, family, business or your health. All you would be concentrated on is creating the quickest route to your dream. Learning is still a vital part of the process and the necessary adjustments are being made along the way, but you would never waver in the intent to reach your destination.
During my lap time on the track the more relaxed I was, the faster I went. My lap times increased in direct proportion to my vision, lines, relaxation, determination and trust. Yes it took many laps to get my mind to further have faith in the process, but once I eliminated doubt and "knew", I truly let go and had many moments where I felt me, the wheel, pedals, car and track became one. The outcome was not in doubt. It was the second greatest active experience of "oneness" that I have ever had. Before this, hitting a pure golf shot was second, now it's a nice third.
In so many of our hobbies or sports like cycling, surfing, running, climbing, yoga, bowling, painting and golfing, they are all ultimately based on a single pointed focus through the creative act of doing. An active form of meditation. For some it's about harnessing a skill to it's precision. Trying to force performance does not work in the effort to get to the highest level of result. The greatest athletes in the world intuitively know this. After the required skill is developed it is another completely different state of mindfulness that takes you to the promised land of performance. All are capable and all are worthy. It's a matter of intention, dedication, and an unflappable state of belief that generates the will and faith to get through the tests when they come. And trust me, they will come. They have to if you want to have an opportunity to demonstrate who you are. If you want to climb the mountain you have to prove you can weather the storms on the way to the top. It's life's beautiful and elegant vetting process. Those who can be humble enough and mindful enough to recognize when they are off track and adapt and correct it, are the ones that get where they want to go the fastest.
In my experience, coaching high level executives and athletes on the power of the mind it has been clear that the pursuit of excellence and the tipping point of separation that takes one from good to great is much more about faith than talent, much more about trust than strength, and much more about wisdom than an intelligent mind. While all of those characteristics are vitally important and can make you very good, there is another level one needs to allow them self into to eventually be considered great. The more they realize this the more powerful their results become.
Like a great golf swing where all thought about the swing is unconscious and all the athlete thinking about is a 3-foot area around the flag as a target, or a great jump shooter who is not only thinking about the net but a specific pinpoint area the player wants to see the ball go in over. Imagine believing in yourself (I AM) and the great "vehicle" of life so much that you can allow yourself fully into the presence of the moment and just "know" every minute of every day that you are going to get "there", whatever your particular intention is. How exciting is it to know that daily opportunity exists for you?
Those two days at that beautiful Porsche facility in Alabama changed my view of driving, limits and life forever. For a short window I got to be a 10-year-old kid again that more than once dreamt of driving a race car on a track. All of the sudden there I was expanding the previous boundaries of my mind and learning how powerful faith is as it relates to creating what I intend for my life, forever making sure I'm present, aware and in a powerful state of mindfulness. Trusting life's beautiful process and always focused on the big picture and the endless creative horizon of infinite possibilities that are always ahead!