Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

How fast is your bobsled?

Posted in Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on July 17, 2009

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the Utah Olympic Park outside of Park City, Utah.  This quaint little village nestled into the side of the Wasatch Mountain Range served as host to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.  My wife and I have fabulous memories from that warm Spring day where we watched snow skiers practice their jumps into a swimming pool, toured the little museum, and hiked around the nature trails surrounding that area.

The highlight of the day for me was an experience that I’ll never forget as long as I live.  I got to ride in a bobsled down the actual track that was built for the Olympic competition. I remember debating whether it was worth the $70 dollars they were asking for this 60 second blurp of fun, but finally my wife encouraged me to go for it since I may never get another chance.  After strapping on my helmet and being shoved into the fiberglass speed machine I remember thinking “I hope this thing doesn’t flip over…surely they wouldn’t let people do this if that was even a possibility”.

The driver sat directly in front of me in a way that was a little too close for comfort and when he gave the signal, they launched us down the ramp.  I have never felt so exhilarated.  The turns were so fast and all I could see was a white blur.  I literally felt like I was in a time warp of some sort as the humble realities of G force and inertia yanked my head in directions it was never intended to turn.   I yelled out loud through every turn.  I was so dizzy that I thought I’d pass out.  I was a complete slave to gravity and my destiny was to sit there and ride down the mountain completely out of control of the situation.  I couldn’t fathom how the driver could actually be doing anything up there that mattered at speeds that fast.

When the ride came to an end, we pried ourselves out of the bobsled and I inquired of the driver’s role in the whole thing.

“Were you really doing anything up there?” I asked him.  “It seemed way too fast for you to actually be controlling anything.  Surely it’s one of those things where we would have made it down OK regardless and you just kind of sit in the front and put the brakes on when it’s all over, right?”

The response from this hippie mountain man astonished me: “If I didn’t drive for you, the sled would have flown off the track in the first turn and you would have been strewn across the mountain side in a million pieces.”

“Wow! You’re kidding!” I said.

“Nope”.

I couldn’t believe it. “How on earth can you think that fast and react to the turns in time when you’re moving that quick?  I could barely focus on the back of your helmet much less the next turn.”

“It’s a lot faster for you” he explained. “My first time down I felt the same way.  I can almost do this in my sleep now; it literally feels like slow motion these days.  I actually forget how fast we’re going until the guy behind me screams.”

The hippie went on to explain that to train as a driver they’re required to ride as a passenger over 150 times down the one mile track before they’re even allowed to sit in the front seat.  It takes about 50 times just to have the direction of the next turn memorized and every trip down after that slows down the experience for them even more.  Once they have their bearings they are allowed to drive ‘survival style’.  They can go down but not with a customer until they have made over 500 trips.  This means the entire first summer at the track they are in training.  They are becoming an expert on the track so they can do it in there sleep.  Only then is it safe for them to take a passenger.

Selling is a lot like this.  So is public speaking.  The only way to polish your skills in these areas is to do it over and over and over again.  The first time you do it, your body is so pumped full of adrenaline that you can’t even see straight.  Eventually it starts to slow down though and after doing it for years you can make it look as if it just happens by itself and you’re there just to sit up front and put the brakes on at the end.  Becoming excellent requires many many trips down the mountain.  Be honest with yourself about how much experience you really have and don’t get disappointed if it feels fast and scary.  I promise it will slow down the more you do it.  You will become more confident and more successful, but you have to keep riding.

“Any ordeal that you can survive as a human being is an improvement in your character, and usually an improvement in your life.”
– Viggo Mortensen

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