56. Two Types of People
The world is split into two types, whether you like it or not
There are two types of people in this world: those who like nuts in their banana bread and those who don't.
Each side’s stance on the subject is very clear, leaving little to no room for interpretation. Each side understands what the other side believes in, but they just can't fathom why anybody would have that stance - as if the very belief defies basic human logic.
The thing is, there is no way to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that either side is right or wrong. Banana bread may - or may not - be better with nuts. None of us will know the true answer in our lifetimes. So we have to be good with that uncertainty.
This life fact becomes most challenging when, say, you're baking banana bread as a gift to welcome the new neighbors. Without being certain about which side of the loaf they stand, you’ve got a challenging decision ahead of you - one that has a 50/50 chance of your loaf ending up in the rubbish bin.
The author and historian John M. Barry, who's stance on banana bread I am still unclear, once wrote:
Certainty creates strength. Certainty gives one something upon which to lean. Uncertainty creates weakness. Uncertainty makes one tentative if not fearful, and tentative steps, even when in the right direction, may not overcome significant obstacles.
Banana bread aside, Mr. Barry's words are deep and wise.
Certainty creates strength. If we know where we need to go and understand how to overcome the obstacles in our way, decision making is very easy.
But here we are, perhaps in the most uncertain times for our nation in a generation or more. This uncertainty, as J. Barry implies, creates fear. It leaves people paralyzed, knowing that any decision they make could very well be the wrong one.
If we only knew what tomorrow would bring - heck, if we could have a glimpse into what next year would bring - then we'd all feel stronger and more confident in the decisions we make today.
But, alas, whatever crystal ball we may have been using has been completely shattered. We, as an industry, no longer have a clear and unified vision of our future. The future is too foggy to get clarity.
It's as if the entire industry is driving at night down an unfamiliar road - we can't see beyond the headlights but we keep moving forward, trying our best to quickly avoid every pothole and stunned deer that emerges into the light of our twisted path.
A Spectrum of Hope
I was talking the other day with my friend Mike Bone of Spectrum Sports. Like many, Mike has grown tired of sitting around and waiting for the world to turn in his direction. So one day recently he decided to start a coalition of California-based industry leaders to help advocate the state on behalf of the endurance business.
Within ten days word spread and Mike's coalition grew to a level he never expected.
He's aptly named it the California Coalition for Endurance Sports.
“What is your goal with this?” I asked him shortly after he began to socialize the idea.
“Truthfully, I'm not really sure,” he said. “But I feel we are definitely headed in the right direction.”
Where is the end of the road? Heck if I know - and maybe Mike doesn't even know yet. But that's not the point. The point is that he's driving forward.
Driving The Car At Night
Going back to that analogy of the headlights (which, for the record, I completely stole from E.L. Doctorow), we each have a choice of how we want to live our lives during uncertain times.
You can be the driver of your car - trying to lead the way and make decisions based on what comes into the limited view of your headlights. You may crash and take others with you, but you may be the hero at the end of the road, having guided our industry to a new tomorrow.
Or you could be a passenger in the car, moving forward in the direction others drive, giving yourself the option to bail out at any moment you see danger.
You could be the deer, frozen in fear and hoping to prance off into the sunset if you don't end up roadkill along the way.
Some of you, too, are the potholes - where your only purpose appears to be stalling or derailing others who are trying to move forward.
So what are you?
Are you the driver, the passenger, deer or the pothole? We all play a role in this whether you recognize it or not.
Headed In The Right Direction
As we said above, uncertainty breeds risk. So no matter which role you play - the driver, passenger, deer or pothole - you will have risk. The question becomes whether you want to take control of your risk or let others do it for you.
Listen, I don't care if you're the driver or the passenger. I don't care if you're speeding recklessly to the future or on a grandmotherly Sunday morning roll.
What I do care about is that you help everybody in this industry to keep moving forward.
We have too many people in this industry that act as potholes on the road to our future. When confronted with something new, the only response from these pothole people is negativity.
“What’s the point”
“It’s never going to work”
“You’re wasting your time”
"That seems like a terrible idea"
You are welcome to feel the way of the pothole, but unless you’re being constructive, please keep it covered.
Which brings us back to Mike and the California Coalition for Endurance Sports.
He started this coalition out of frustration that nothing was happening on a local and state level to help rebuild his business. He realized he had two choices - he could be the driver or the pothole. One choice gives you hope for the future, the other ensures you will never have control over your own success.
The first step Mike did was contact some of his friends to get their opinions on the Coalition. Most were positive and passengers jumped in the car, some were negative creating potholes in his way. He still continued driving forward. Quickly he found more and more passengers joining him on his travels. And that led to progress.
Since that initial conversation, Mike has created more definition around the CCES coalition. Their goal is to work with state and county representatives in order to create a roadmap that leads us back to safe and responsible participatory sporting events of all sizes.
In less than two weeks of effort, he created purpose and gathered a whole bunch of passengers to work together on the journey. Because that's what a driver does.
Where is it all going? Who knows.
But as long as we keep following our headlights and moving forward as far as the light can reveal, we must trust that we are headed in the right direction.