Life is a race.

Welcome danger to get better.

Hello again, Squad.

The Really Rich Journal

Patience is a virtue in life, of course, but it’s not something we F1 people have much of.

Niki Lauda

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The Weekly Tone

When I was a kid, I built model cars. From blocks and Legos to glue and enamel then finally to the ready-to-display die cast scale models that were a special treat from Santa once a year.

A sports car represents the cleanest example of why you want to grow up. Speed and freedom—and tantalizing rarity and expense which you, on a five-dollar-a-week allowance, can’t quite afford yet. It’s a dream that lives in the hearts of many, even if you’re reading this from the driver’s seat in a minivan waiting for soccer practice to end.

When I was six, I got a racing yellow Porsche 911 (996) 1:16 model and put it next to my bed. The color wasn’t something you’d see in the neighborhood. It was wild, untouchable. And it looked fast just sitting there on my dresser. It was the beginning of an obsession that I only now am having the opportunity to express thirty years later.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join Porsche at their Track Experience course in Birmingham, Alabama. The course builds the foundation for drivers interested in trying their skills on a race track—or “high performance driving” as it’s called. High performance driving differs drastically from what you do on the street.

After a brief class on load transfer and (beloved) braking - we headed down to the track to find a row of Porsche 911s (992), red, black, and then, miraculously, racing yellow.

These are the moments when you remember that growing up doesn’t always suck.

Of course, at home, I own a few of these big kid’s toys by now. Sure, I consider myself a decent enough driver, but not having high performance accolades filled me while owning exotic marques in my garage filled me with guilt. “All hat and no cattle” as they say.

I had to change that.

Many times, impostor syndrome has a quick fix. You can skip a trip to the shrink, it’s usually as simple as learning the skills necessary. You may be a product manager without dev skills—taking an entry level course would earn some confidence in meetings and take your skills to the next level. Before you know it, you’re competent. Even if you’re nowhere near ready to write code, you get a picture of how far you could go if you kept practicing—you know where you stand.

Back on the track, we learned our lines via a radio in the dash from a lead instructor and slowly ramped up the intensity. Over the course of the weekend, which involved over 14 hours of driving, I was calmly driving 120 miles and hour and braking firmly and taking turns at 40. Incredible.

Beyond the joy of driving a cool car very fast around a track in the Alabama sun, was a feeling of confidence that emerged that extended far beyond driving after the weekend. It seemed that, if I could improve this skill so drastically in a weekend, what else could I accomplish? Routine jitters before an important meeting seemed silly in comparison to approaching a hairpin turn at 100 and trusting the brakes still work.

Is embracing danger a necessity to a balanced life? I think so.

The endurance necessary to not die lap after lap seems to apply to every corner of a high performance, well, life. I’m now working to build a training regimen to race competitively.

Back in the office, when a meeting runs long or enters challenging territory, I place myself back in the driver’s seat before the chicane on turn seven - calm and focused, breathing until I make successful passage to the straightaway.

I’m somehow more equipped in and out of the car.

Now, perhaps you have absolutely no interest in speed. Maybe it’s tennis or golf. Maybe it’s designing computer games on the edge of your skill level when you’re not shipping a new feature at your day job.

The domain is your choice. But welcoming danger in an effort to get better isn’t.

Try opening the door to something so dangerous that you can’t look away for even a moment—where you can feel the tires at their limit and heat radiate from the brakes upwards into the cockpit because you’re almost there, faster than the last lap, gaining on the car in front of you, until it’s just you in a little yellow car, older but not worse off, under an infinite orange sky, now a version of yourself that astounds you.

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