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Achieving Success: Leadership, Drafting, and Escalators

The Speed of the Leader Determines the Rate of the Pack.

I’ve been a cyclist for many years.  As a CAT 3 cyclist, I’ve logged thousands of hours, mostly from show and go training rides, where people show up at a specific location and go for a pack bike ride.

The unique thing about cycling in a pack is that the speed of the pack is always determined by the leaders.  The rest do their part in the pace line or just suck wheel, which means they stay at the back and draft, saving up to 30% of their energy.  In a race, it makes total sense to conserve your energy to sprint for the finish line. In business, however, drafting (or coasting) leads to bankruptcy.

Are you drafting or leading in your business or career?

Are you someone who looks for short-cuts and the easy way out, or are you committed to improving your personal and professional life?  Don’t get me wrong, process improvements and efficiency aren’t what I call short cuts. Those are positive improvements.  What I’m referring to is personal accountability.   There’s a saying, “The true character of a person cannot be measured by what they say, but by what they do when nobody is looking.”   How true.

As 2010 comes to an end and you plan your new year, ask yourself the tough questions related to what you want to change and what you’re willing to do to achieve those outcomes.   Are you going to be a leader and be in control of the pace or draft, expecting others to pick up the load for you?

What prompted this blog post was a conversation I had with a friend of mine, Rory Vaden.  Rory is a keynote speaker who’s brand is focused around the concept of “Taking the Stairs.”  In short, his message is about self-discipline and what it takes daily to re-commit to our dreams and goals.  It includes three main areas… Focus, Sacrifice, and Action, with a metaphor between escalator mentality vs. stair mentality.  The point is that you have to improve your self-discipline and actions if you really want to reach your goals.

Now as simply profound as that may be… society conditions us to do the exact opposite.  Fast food, instant gratification, maxing out credit, entitlement mentality, and lack of consciousness have all contributed to create the disaster facing our economy.

As a business leader, finding and retaining great employees has been a challenge.  Especially with the generation gap between GEN X/Y and Millennials.  I don’t understand the “everyone gets a trophy” concept.  How can you create and inspire great leadership when no one is accountable?  If you have employees who are drafting, it’s time to encourage them to lead or free them up for new opportunities.

Time to get off my soap box.

I want you to think about 2010 and the progress you made or didn’t make this year.  Did you get what you wanted? Did you achieve prosperity and your dreams… or at least some of them?  If not, why?  What are you waiting for?  How much time do you think you have left on this planet?  Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to anyone so quit drafting, pull out of the pack, and become a leader for your own personal and professional success.

How do you improve your self-discipline and actions to reach your goals?  Leave your comments below.

Author Byline: Ford Saeks, Business Growth Specialist, Keynote Speaker, Author and Consultant. Helping you find, attract, and keep your customers.

November 9, 2010 Posted By : Ford Saeks


  1. Sean Brady

    Very interesting article! A must read for everyone!

  2. David

    Gen X is most capable of leading this change – because they grew up in the pre-Internet world and are young enough to adapt and understand how the Internet is transforming business.

    Yet many factors are preventing this leadership shift from occurring. How and when this occurs will be critical in many respects!

  3. Jim Hardy

    I am already changing my patterns.


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