Sunday marks the sixty-first running of the Daytona 500—the “Great American Race.” Owner teams and pit crews will engage in all sorts of teamwork during the event, and I am sure there will be plenty of “good teammate” lessons to be learned from those interactions.
But this week, I want to focus on a lesson to be derived from the race’s origins revolving around false barriers.
At the turn of the twentieth century, automobiles were a luxury that only wealthy people could afford. Cars were more toy than necessity. Rich northerners would bring their cars south to Florida and race each other on the sands of Daytona Beach, a forerunner to the salt flats of Utah.
As automobiles became more affordable, racing grew in popularity with people from all financial backgrounds. Car enthusiasts from around the world came to race on Daytona’s long, wide, and uniquely hard packed beach.
Race promoters capitalized on this opportunity and began organizing larger events. But they soon encountered a problem that cut into their profits.
Fans were climbing over the sand dunes and sneaking into the race track instead of buying tickets to sit in the grandstands. To deter fans from doing this, race organizers put up signs along the dunes warning of dangerous rattlesnakes.
Perhaps there were rattlesnakes in the sand dunes, but they weren’t nearly as common or nearly as big of a risk as the promoters perpetuated them to be. In actuality, the rattlesnake warnings held about the same sincerity as crocodile tears.
But the signs served their purpose. They scared spectators and discouraged them from sneaking into the track.
Sometimes we encounter a version of rattlesnake warnings on our team—fake barriers that create fear and keep us from acting.
We don’t confront a teammate who’s doing something wrong, because we’ve been conditioned to mind our own business. We are fearful of the repercussion that may come from getting involved, so we choose not to act.
News flash…If what your teammate is doing affects the team, then it is always your business, and you are obligated to get involved! The perceived repercussions aren’t as dangerous as your fear has led you to believe. The consequences of not confronting and allowing the wrongful act to continue pose a far greater threat to you and your team.
Heeding rattlesnake warnings keeps you from being a good teammate. They reduce you to a selfish individual who’s more concerned with self-preservation than serving the needs of your team.
When you come across rattlesnake warnings, recognize them for what they really are: fake barriers. Drop the hammer, put the pedal to the medal, and drive right past them. Allow your courage to overtake your fear.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.