Sitting on this plane that is headed to Sonoma Raceway, I found a picture of Jeff Gordon’s 1998 victory lane celebration. At that time, I was working on behalf of NASCAR and it had just dawned on me that I had been playing this game at the highest level in motorsports for over 20 years. Now that I feel super old, I thought I would share what I believe to be my top five keys for uncovering success.
1 - Patience
A common trait I have discovered over the past 20 years is that newbies who are coming into a NASCAR garage believe they can talk, buy, or push their way into a position of respect. One-hundred out of as many times this is because of a lack of self-confidence—and these individuals get frustrated when their investment doesn’t boost them into the perceived inner circle. What these people need to understand is that it takes time. Delivering consistent quality is what earns your rank in the NASCAR family. There are some, of course, who raise their profile quicker than others because of their work ethic, personality, or status. But without a doubt, patience is the key to earning the respect.
2 - Hustle
I recently shared a quote that captures my feelings about the importance of this topic: “Things come to those that wait, but only the things left by those that hustle.” You will see a sticker of the word HUSTLE stuck on the back window of my truck, embossed on my notebooks, and proudly displayed at the top of my social media profile. Hustle isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life for myself, my wife, and every single person I know who wishes to find success. Hustle is something that I believe people see in me or something I can see in others. I have often told teammates who weren’t cutting it that they needed to find another gear. If you find yourself struggling to accomplish your task, get a promotion, or receive the reward you are seeking then shift into that gear and kick up the HUSTLE!
3 - Evolve
I worked my first part-time job as a NASCAR official in 1993 when I was only 15 years old. Throughout the last 25 years I have seen Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and Jeff Gordon retire; Dale Earnhardt pass away; Jimmie Johnson win seven championships; the boom of NASCAR in the 2000’s; The Car of Tomorrow; and the young guns become the old guard. What has stayed consistent throughout this time period is that the league, the athletes, and the brands have all had to aggressively evolve with the change in consumer behavior. This evolution wasn’t just important for them, but it has also been imperative for me as I look to stay relevant in the sport. Continued education via classes, conferences, and YouTube have helped get me outside of my comfort zone and build confidence when writing blogs, filming vlogs, and staying up-to-date on the latest social platform.
4 - Remember Your Roots
You don’t luck your way into a job in sports; oftentimes these professionals start connecting relationship dots at an extremely young age, whether it is interning at an agency or working with the ground crew at a local racetrack. These angles allow you to meet thousands of people along the way. What I embraced early on was that out of these thousands of people, some of them were going to go on to be my coworkers, bosses, or customers—but I didn’t know which category each of them would end up falling in. Fortunately, I am wired in way where I enjoy connecting and remaining in touch with people. This personality trait has proved to be valuable as there are countless people that I first met as interns who are now heavy influencers. More important is the fact that I treated the young interns with respect, stayed connected with them over the years, and now have uncovered a way for us to work together in our new adventures. Back to my comments about patience, this is where you are able to really have fun doing big things if you have been patient in getting to where you are today.
5 - Enjoy the Ride
What often looks like fun and games quickly becomes a grind for the weak. The countless hotel nights away from your loved ones, the long hours working in 100-degree heat, and the rainy nights quickly separates the people that really want to be here from the rest. So, after 20+ years I ask myself WHY and the answer is often simple: I love the ride. It’s the sense of accomplishment that you feel after a 24-hour day when you crack open a beer with your teammates and commiserate over the ass kicking you just took. It’s the family that you build in the garage. It’s the feeling you get when the jets fly by during the National Anthem. None of these things on their own are enough, but when you total them all up and share those stories at the end of the day, it’s worth it.
I am grateful for the ride that the last 20 years with NASCAR has been—and I can’t wait to see where the next 20 will take me.
Please let me know what your top five tips for success are. I’m curious.