Published in Automotive

Slow Down to Speed Up: The CX Pillars of Support that Drive Achievement

 The world comes at us at 150+ miles an hour, every day. Each new moment thrusts upon us decision points, which shape our next steps. As we barrel through this speedway of change called life, there are key pillars of support that drive our achievement. Sometimes the best way to ‘speed up’ and reach our goals is to ‘slow down’ and re-focus on how we get there together, as a CX immersed team.

Last month, I  returned from my third, and by far my most memorable, CXFusion 2018 conference. This CX industry event is hosted by MaritzCX, in fabulous Las Vegas Nevada. CXFusion consistently delivers a non-stop experience of networking, breakout sessions, key note speeches and awe-inspiring, motivational touch-points. Industry leaders and CX practitioners, from all shapes and sizes of CX evolution, join this yearly event to share and learn from each another. 

On a business level, the knowledge, insights, and interactions from colleagues, clients, and cross-industry experts and professionals, help me to grow. On personal level, the experience at CXFusion this year, with myself, my leaders, my coach, and my team, help me to change. 

The following dialogue, is a candid recollection and retrospection of the moments that changed me, and the applications this can have to viewing your CX Pillars of Support that Drive Achievement. 

When Your Shoulders Won’t Commit to the fit

Day one of CX Fusion 2018, brought some of us to a once in a lifetime experience at Las Vegas Speedway. Our Automotive Summit kicked-off a blazing hot day with a smoking cool adventure of an in-car Indy Car Racing Experience. The Automotive team hosted a luncheon and Future of CX presentation, where we discussed actions and trends to focus on, as the CX environment continually evolves with time and technology. Then, we signed-in, suited-up and headed-over to a crash course of the rules, training, and safety procedures for Indy Car Racing, given by a seasoned race car instructor. 

The adrenaline kicked-in, as we individually picked out our track suits, zipped-em up over our daily clothes, and walked together across the sticky asphalt to the edge of the racing pit. We all sat, with nervous excitement, ogling the three Indy Cars sitting empty on the track, with their open cockpit and tires gleaming under the Vegas sun. Just then, a NASCAR rumbled-up, changed drivers, and roared away at full throttle. The track expert tore that NASCAR around the oval at a break-neck speed. Wow, this was really real, and it was going to be even more real, in a matter of moments. 

They called us up, in groups of three, for the driving event. We collectively watched, as each Auto Summit participant was fitted with their helmet, guided onto the track, and slipped into the cockpit of their individual Indy Car. Witnessing my colleague’s reactions, after they concluded their eight minute in-car experience was inspiring. Everyone encouraged each other, and they shared in the bliss of sitting inches off the ground, while bounding around the racetrack, in an open-air Indy Car. Not to mention, the friendly internal competition that began, as they each received a certificate with their top MPH speed emblazed for all to see and compare. 

Game time. It was on now. My name was called in the next group of three, and I stepped up to the challenge. The helmet was pressed onto my melon, and I was escorted out to the middle Indy Car. 

Looking to my left and right, I saw my other colleagues start entering their Indy Cars. I felt a secure hand on my back, and the instructor said to step-up into the cockpit. Right leg, then left leg, and settle-in. The instruction seemed simple, the goal seemed attainable, but the result–not so much. I successfully navigated my legs into the car, I sat down, and in that moment, where a second seems like an eternity, I came to the painful realization that my shoulders wouldn’t ‘commit to the fit’. I’m a broad shoulder fella, and I knew that this was not going to work for me. The desire was there, the expectation was clear and understood, and the team was behind me to succeed, but an unexpected barrier presented itself. In order to race that Indy Car, my shoulders and arms needed to comfortably settle within the cockpit. 

I felt my heart pounding rapidly, the cockpit and helmet started to become claustrophobic around me, and I wanted out. Yeah, in that moment, I beat myself up about it pretty quickly and soundly, still shoe-horned in the Indy Car cockpit, with a flurry of track crew now coming to review, advise, and assist on the situation. I thought about “What is everyone thinking, watching me right now?” “What are my wife and little kids gonna think, when I tell them I couldn’t do it?” and “How the heck am I going to get out of this tin can?” Thankfully, with the strong and supportive arm of a crew member, I un-gracefully exited the Indy Car, as he patted my back and said, “Don’t worry about it brother, it’s all good.” 

The staff was awesome, top-notch. After my helmet came-off, the on-track crew chief immediately came up to me, and asked “Hey man, if you wanna get out there and race, we’ll set-up a NASCAR and you can take that out. It’s no trouble at all,  just let me know. You wanna do that? 

A new moment and decision point presented itself to me. Still lingering in a cloud of self-doubt and regret, I tentatively responded to the crew chief with, “No thanks, but I appreciate you giving me that option. The rest of my team is racing Indy Cars today, so I will just support and cheer them on. 

In that moment, that’s how I thought the Indy Car experience was going to end for me, on that day. However, both internal and external forces intervened which proved otherwise. I came to discover, first-hand, the changes that can ensue from having effective CX Pillars of Support. 

Pillar 1: Self 

After respectfully declining the offer to drive the NASCAR, I walked around the corner, and I engaged my other Auto Summit colleagues. They all asked me how my drive went, and I shockingly realized that in all the commotion on the track… nobody saw that I entered and exited the Indy Car without racing. As each new person came-up to me, to ask about my race experience, I explained the situation to them and said that ‘It’s all good, because I can still be here to cheer on and support the team”. I proceeded to take off my race jumpsuit and change back into my ‘regular mode’, both in outward dress and inward reflection, meaning that I was now changed from a racecar driver to a pit-crew member. After taking off my jumpsuit, I walked over a few feet, to the basket where all the completed racers had deposited their used jumpsuit. I held, hovered, and couldn’t come to release my track suit into the basket yet, so I folded it up, clasped it under my arm and walked back to the track area to cheer on my peers. 

Pillar 2: Leader 

News started to circulate about the ‘forfeit race’, and the raceway session was coming to a close, as the group of remaining drivers quickly dwindled down. In the distance, I saw the track crew chief and the race day organizer talking to my VP. I sensed that something was a foot, when my VP motioned for me and walked over to talk to me directly. He had found out about my situation, and said, “You know, they’ll get out a NASCAR for you, and you can do that so you have the experience.” I responded by acknowledging that the offer was made, and that I had declined, knowing the rest of the team drove the Indy Cars. My VP, my leader, stepped-up to this response and said, “Nah, you’re going. Go out there and have fun.” I declined again, now for a third time–once to the crew chief, minutes after ‘my initial defeat’, and now twice to my VP. This time, the response from my VP was more direct and personal. He knew that I wanted to do this, and he knew that I was pushing myself down because of what happened earlier. So he said “You’re doing this. Put back on that track suit you’re holding onto, and go do it buddy. It doesn’t matter how fast you go, it’s about giving yourself the experience”. In that moment, my VP empathized, supported, encouraged, and motivated me, with a clearly communicated goal. He helped me to help myself overcome my doubt and he empowered me to take action to achieve my goal. After that ‘leadership moment’, I quickly suited back up and readied myself for the race at hand. 

Pillar 3: Coach 

Along the journey, having a solid coach is a critical role in successfully navigating change to achieve your desired goals. As I walked-up to the NASCAR, the crew member helped to successfully guide me into the car, and gave me instructions to press the ‘talk button’ on the steering wheel, to communicate with my spotter. I tapped the button, said ‘Test, test, this is a channel test’, and a voice immediately came back over saying “10-4, I read ya loud n clear. My name is Daniel, and I’ll be your spotter today, to guide you through this every step of the way.” He then asked, “What’s your name, and what experience do you have today?” I responded with my name and said that I was a rookie-level driver, and knew how to drive a manual transmission. He echoed back my name, and he let me know that we’d ease on outa here is just a few seconds. Before we started, Daniel said that we’ll start things slow and make small goals and adjust for each lap, as my comfort level and feel for the car and track grew. He asked me to gently rev it to 2500 RPM, put it in first gear, and then ease out the clutch and into the gas. The NASCAR crackled, rumbled and roared, as I shook in delight and anticipation of the next step. As we started onto the track, Daniel was in the headset the entire time, calmly and continually guiding me along the way. I quickly shifted through to fourth gear, and Daniel said, “Now go ahead and merge on up into the middle of the track and we’ll keep going”. I gradually made my way over the line and onto the embankment of the track surface. What power in that car, what an angle on that track, and what nerves I still needed to work through, as Daniel coached me one step at a time. Daniel was like my inner voice, as I proceeded to rev the car to higher and higher RPMs, with more comfort level. He gave me real-time communication, recognized my successes when I ‘held a good line’, constructively instructed me on opportunities to improve, and adapted as he read the situation and helped to keep me moving forward. My spotter and coach let me know when each new goal was attained, and what to focus on for my next achievement. He also said “trust the car, it’ll do what it’s made to do, you’re doing great”. 

Pillar 4: Team 

As I rounded my third lap, Daniel smoothly informed me that “There’s a car going to pass you on the right, so stay down by the white line. Passing you in three, two, one.” Then, VRROOOMMM, this NASCAR screams by me like I’m standing still, and I think to myself, “Use that car’s line, get behind them, speed-up, you got this, make this count”. In that moment, the doubt faded, the nerves settled, and the accelerator got pushed down. 

The journey, and the world around me, was moving fast–154 MPH, to be specific. 

My SELF-awareness drove me to regret and refocus my situation. 

My LEADER gave me empathy, encouragement and empowerment. 

My COACH provided clear and attainable goals and guidance. 

My TEAM exuded support and challenged me to push forward. 

I experienced a great life lesson that day, Fail, Learn, and Win together, as a team. 

Taking a step back, to properly recognize and engage the CX Pillars of Support, while trusting in yourself and your team, can help you to drive achievement and success.