Leading To A Preferred Future

by : Jeff Earlywine

February 01, 2004

Footprints and Monuments

"Leading to a preferred future"

By Jeff Earlywine

Last month's edition of Footprints and Monuments illustrated a parallel between leadership in the face of disaster and the voyage of the Apollo 13. As you will remember, an explosion on board forced the crew to circle the moon without ever landing on their prized target. Obviously, they didn't have the preferred ending to their trip in space. But they did get home alive, and were very happy about that.

This month's edition is a continuation of last month's. We will explore in detail what it means to have a committed team that refuses to lose, a team that constantly thinks outside the box, and a team that focuses on a preferred future. It will provide you with skills and ideas to help you develop your own preferred future. It will do this with another parallel - stockcar racing.

Stockcar racing is one of my favorite sports, and has been most of my life. I have spent hours sitting on a hard bleacher watching 43 drivers race at speed exceeding 200mph, and doing it just inches from each other. It is a sport that has evolved from a bunch of moon-shiners showing off their "beefed up" cars to now a multi-million dollar industry full of high-tech computerized equipment. In the middle of all these high-powered engines, fast turns, and million-dollar paychecks are some basic principles to help you develop your preferred future. Below are five of those principles first explained in racing terminology and then made applicable to your life.

Mental Preparation

In a driver's mind, the race has to start before he ever arrives at the track. The driver and his team have to be mentally prepared to endure whatever it takes to win. That's the No. 1 priority, the No. 1 goal: Win! Losing is not an option!

In order for you to win, or overcome your day's challenges, you must be mentally prepared. I have found that mental preparedness and success in my day comes from...

  • Preparing and planning the day before.

  • Expecting the best but being prepared for the worst.

  • Remembering to keep God first in my day - long before my appointments and tasks.

  • Thinking outside the box - just because you have never done it this way before does not mean you can't or shouldn't.

Sound Car

Every racetrack is going to have its peculiarities and a different set of challenges to overcome, but the driver and crew must identify them beforehand and factor that information into the set-up of the car. Adjusting the car to each track is the single, greatest challenge, week-in and week-out, for every driver and team. Every piece of equipment on the car must be thoroughly checked. The engine has to be lovingly massaged by every member of the crew that works on it. By the time that green flag drops on Sunday afternoon, car, driver and team must be as one and as close to perfect as possible.

The better we stick to our priorities the more successful we will be. If priorities are what keep us heading in the right direction, then our plans are the equipment that must be adjusted and analyzed with a fine-toothed comb. The old saying is true, "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail."

Track Position

Track position is the key of keys when it comes to winning a race. The secret to establishing track position comes down to risk. While the crew chief can keep the driver posted on what his car can do, knowing when and where to do it is still left up to a driver's instincts. Trying to pass a car that's going the same speed is very difficult. You need the right combination of timing, knowledge of the track and risk.

Track position in racing is just as important as being in the right position at the right time in life. It has been said, "It is not what you know, but who you know that counts." That may very well be true, but if you are not in the right place at the right time it does not matter. So the question is, "How can you be in the right place at the right time to capitalize on an opportunity?" The answer, at least for me, is to focus on preparing for the opportunity instead of always looking for the opportunity. I am of the opinion that if you prepare well enough the opportunities seek you out. Then, when you get an opportunity, go at it with a refuse to lose attitude.

Pit Stops

Making up time on the track, only to give it back in the pits, is one of the surest ways to stay out of Victory Lane. While most pit stops routinely take between 15 and 20 seconds, and might only occur four or five times a race, they can combine to total the most significant minute in a three-hour race.

A pit stop in your life is R&R, rest and relaxation. Move of us live lives going Mach 3 with our hair on fire, and love every minute of it. However, pit stops are the key to life's success. Just like in racing, the pit stops in our lives are short and few in number. But they are extremely important. Also, as in racing, our pit stops must be intentional, planned out, and effective. The goal of each pit stop in our life should be to refuel our tanks, clean our view of life, and provide strength enough to over come life's challenges.


If luck is where preparation meets opportunity, then bad luck is where preparation meets circumstance. More times than not, cars involved in accidents really did nothing wrong. They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (circumstance). It is inevitable that a certain amount of bad luck will take place in every race.

I don't know about you, but this sounds just like my life. I have found that bad things do happen to good people, and that good luck shines just as often. Many times it is our perspective and attitude towards things that makes all the difference. We find in the following scripture, taken from the book of James, that life is full of up and downs, but all can work for our benefit.

James 1:2-5 -

2. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

3. because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

4. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

5. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (NIV)

Thanks for reading, and I hope that one or all of these keys will help you win life's race today and assist you in achieving your preferred future.

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