It’s funny the things that come to mind when you are away from the realities of everyday life, like the parallels between negotiating new business and competing in a dirt bike rally.
I’m fresh back from a weekend in Yorkshire competing at the Rydale off road motorcycle Rally, it had been raining all through the week leading up to the event, but as Saturday dawned the sun was out and I together with 180 other riders were lined up to head out in our groups of 4, one minute apart.
In the days preceding the event I had carefully prepared my motorcycle, systematically cleaning and collating all of my tools, riding gear and the spares I might need in the event of a breakdown, so as I warmed up my engine ahead of the start I felt 100% confident that this was going to be 2 fabulous days of great riding.
Day 1 was to include 3 x 48 mile laps of the Yorkshire forestry, kicked off by a 5 mile liaison section to arrive at the start of check point 1. I set off on my minuet at 9.58 and could not believe it when just 500 meters after leaving the official start line, I lost all throttle response!!
I tried fanning the clutch and notching it up a gear but nothing was working all I had was tick-over which gradually slowed to a stop, my mind raced through the electrical and fuel circuets to think what could have caused this to be happening, ‘suddenly penny dropped’ that I hadn’t taken the rag out of the air box after cleaning the air filter which was now starving the engine of air.
I pulled to the side of the road and as the rest of the riders streamed by I quickly removed the seat, fuel tank, filter and air box rubber to get at the injection system to pull the rag out that had been sucked right through to the throttle body.
By the time I rebuilt everything and got going again I was stone last and almost timed out before the event had even got under way, but my thoughts were that I was still in the race and just had to keep a strong mindset to make my way back through the field of competitors to get back into competition.
In business preparation ahead of any major negotiation is absolutely crucial, but at some time in your career you will inevitably show up to pitch your idea or service and something of major importance is going to knock you off course; This my friend is where being resourceful and calm in the face of adversity is going to be crucial if you are to still achieve success, or as the old saying goes..
“It’s not what happens, it’s how you handle what happens that determines your outcome”
In making my way back through the field of riders I was if I’m honest riding at the very top of my ability, maintaining a quick pace but taking more risks than I normally would through the tree sections and boggy ruts, which resulted in me burning a lot more energy than I was comfortable with (I should know better at my age).
By lap 2 of pushing forward I was now making mistakes due to both mental and physical fatigue, so it didn’t take long before the inevitable happened and I took my first trip over the handle bars after getting cross rutted going into a particularly wet boggy section to quickly. Heaving the bike out of the mud and getting back up and running drained what little energy I still had and within another few hundred meters I crashed again.
With another 80 or so miles to go I knew I had to slow things down for a while to catch my breath and let my energy levels pick back up or this was going to turn into a very bad day.
In business there are times in a negotiation when for whatever reason the whole direction of the meeting suddenly turns left and you just know that if you continue to go down that road things are not going to end well. It’s at this moment when it’s all unravelling that professional negotiators know it’s essential to slow everything down to a virtual standstill so that each party can recalibrate and find an agreement frame to get the conversation pointed back towards the positive outcome that each party are looking to reach.
“Remember that the person asking the questions, is the person steering the conversation”
As I crossed the finish line at the end of the 2nd day and collected my finishers momento, my thoughts immediately turned to the next event, the Brecon Rally in Wales and how if I want a stronger outcome I am going to have to get in the gym more to be stronger in body and more ride time to practice riding faster I am to enjoy the riding more and have a more competitive outcome.
In business we are also constantly learning from our mistakes, it’s what makes us stronger going forward and what gives us the ability to be even better in business than we were yesterday. Having the ability to turn negatives into positives is the difference between those that achieve success and those that achieve extraordinary success.
I wish you a fantastic week of learning and practicing to be even better than you were yesterday.