The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 was this past Sunday. 500 miles in 200 laps around a 2.5 mile, 4 turn historic track.
I can’t bring myself to watch two full hours of racing, but I definitely like the finish of this race given the distinguished field of international racers. There were the normal contenders and the new hopefuls. At the end of it all, rookie J.R. Hildebrand had the lead going into the last lap. He was ahead by a lot and simply had to stay on the course to win. Sounds easy, but it didn’t happen. On the last turn, Hildebrand slid out and crashed into the wall allowing Dan Weldon to slip by within 100 feet of the finish line to take the victory. Weldon had not led the race for a single lap up to that point. He had no hope of winning and most of the afternoon was about staying in the race. Can you imagine the coaching Weldon got that afternoon during the long two hours from his crew in the pit.
Often as leader, you have to coach your team to stay the course, plow ahead and good things will happen. Even the most insightful lead does not know for sure that perseverance will pay off, but we do know without it, we are doomed. Weldon stayed in the won.
Have you had to coach in what seemed like a losing effort? How did you motivate the team? Did the victory ever jump from the jaws of defeat?