Are You Racing Downhill? - Leadership SHIFT Tip

A few days ago I was catching up with a friend over lunch. The conversation bounced from family to politics to sports to Hawaii’s volcanic eruption on Hilo.

My friend is a weekend warrior cyclist and knew that I had climbed Mt. Haleakala on Maui a few times on my bike. He asked me, in a rhetorical sense of course, “Why do you ride up that thing? It could blow as well.”

Then he added, “I would never try to race up that thing. You’re crazy. You should ride down it like everyone else or just drive up to see the sunrise.”

Then I shared, in my best “bless your heart” tone, “You don’t get it. The crazy ones are riding down it.”

And that exchange sparked today’s video Shift Tip. You can watch it by clicking HERE.

Have fun storming the castle! See you at the top of the climb!

I referenced Seth Godin in the video.

Below is an excerpt from one of his 2012 blog posts that I shared with my friend.

In our connected world, commodity producers are under intense pressure. The price of anything that’s made to a spec, or that responds to an RFP, is instantly known by all buyers. That means that there’s an argument made by big corporations for each country to charge corporations the lowest possible tax rate, to loosen environmental regulations down to zero, and to eliminate employee protections. All so that a country’s commodity producers can be the cheapest ones.

I know we can do that. There’s always the opportunity to cut a corner, sacrifice lifestyle quality and suck it up as we race to grab a little more market share.

But the problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win.

You might make a few more bucks for now, but not for long and not with pride. Someone will always find a way to be cheaper or more brutal than you.

The race to the top makes more sense to me. The race to the top is focused on design and respect and dignity and guts and innovation and sustainability and yes, generosity when it might be easier to be selfish. It’s also risky, filled with difficult technical and emotional hurdles, and requires patience and effort and insight. The race to the top is the long-term path with the desirable outcome.