I am not a race car drive. Nor do I play one on TV.
Many years ago, I had an amazing boss at KNDD, 107.7 The End, the radio station that brought Seattle’s grunge music to the world. Anna was one of the best managers I’ve ever worked with. At the time, she was in her early 40s and running a $100 million radio station. She knew a thing or two about a thing or two.
One day while gazing out the window of her high rise office, she clued me into a metaphor that has stuck with me for decades. She told me about the concept of ‘the power curve.’
Apparently, if you’re trying to win a car race, you’re gonna gun it on the straightaway. Makes sense. Until it’s time to turn. As a relatively sane driver you’d think that your best bet at that juncture would be to tap the breaks, slow down, and make it around the corner without wiping out. Sage advice, right?
First, slowing down is generally not the way to win a race. And as it turns out, if you don’t slow down enough, you’ll crash into the wall and become an unhappy participant in an epic fireball.
So what’s the plan?
Believe it or not, this is the moment to step into the ‘power curve.’ Turns out, it’s a smart move if you happen to believe in the laws of physics. It’s a smart move even if you don’t.
When you hit the turn, the back end of the car is going to lose its grip on the road and swing toward the outside. If you don’t slow down enough, you’re toast. Plus, you don’t want to slow down anyway. So here’s the counter-intuitive move. You step on the gas.
When you step on the gas, the extra propulsion keeps the back end of the car aligned so you can get around the turn without wiping out. F*ing brilliant. Physics rules. But why am I riffing on this?
Because the power curve is a major metaphor in life.
In late December of last year I lost a job that was supplying about 1/2 of my income. Ooops. But kind of good news too. Since then I’ve had way more time and energy to commit to my NFA coaching practice, classes, marketing, writing, etc. I stepped on the gas.
I made a much more ambitious plan with steep business goals. I started cranking forward. Spending money on marketing and software and a publicist for my book. All good, right? Right. Except it takes time to build a business.
So far, I’m seriously in the hole. Watching the bank account disappear week by week. Outch.
This is where the NFA gets real. This is where the truth of the power curve will be revealed. I could tap on the breaks, slow down. But that ain’t gonna happen. Not this time.
I could take the middle way and kind of slow down, but then I wouldn’t make the metaphorical turn. Not cool.
Or I could accelerate.
If I have the guts to step on the gas when every nerve and fiber of my being shouts in the opposite direction, I can maintain my speed, make it through the turn and align my wheels to the next straightaway.
In real life, that means that the financial investments in my NFA biz will come around and I’ll see a profit. I’ll help more people with their own creativity and businesses with my coaching and classes. It’s a win if the car doesn’t crash.
This is where the rubber meets the road.
What’s likely to happen? Well, perhaps I’ll pull it off and I’ll have another first hand story of how the power curve is truth.
Maybe I’ll skid out and fail in a ball of fire. Totally possible. But then again, the NFA philosophy is to ‘Fail Fast.’ Because there is no failure, just an opportunity to learn from the mistakes. So that the next time a curve comes around, I’m better equipped to step on the gas and navigate the turn.
In this life, there will always be turns— times to step on the gas. And times to tap on the brakes. Knowing which is which is finding the wisdom in the power curve.
When have you stepped on the gas around the curve?
Crash or rock forward?