If you want something different, do something different.
In a bicycle race, the main group of racers is called a peloton. The peloton is a dynamic, rapidly changing entity that is moving forward through the course of the race. As the group moves forward, individuals are constantly moving within the pack to achieve an optimal position. There are several truths to the peloton that any good coach will tell you:
- You want to be near the front for safety, efficiency, and to be positioned for the win
- You never want to be in the back of the pack
- If you’re not moving forward, you’re going backward
The peloton is similar to today’s rapidly changing business organisations
Being Near the Front
Being near in the front third of the group is the best place to be in a race. You are an active participant in the tactics – moving easily along with the shared effort of the group and ready to react to any changes. You are in the safest place when things go wrong. This is because you can see what is ahead and have visibility of hazards and changes in tactics by others. And you are well positioned to ultimately cross the line in a top position. The same can be said in a professional organisation. It is best to be in the active part of the race where you have good visibility and can easily make adjustments.
In the Back of the Pack
In the back of the pack, you are more susceptible to crashing. This is due to a lack of visibility of hazards with too many other racers blocking your view. Another reason the back is terrible is because there is a “rubber band” effect where small changes made in speed or direction in the front have a magnified effect on those in the back. Similarly, in a business, if you are in the back, you are not driving the direction, but following. And, decisions made by those in the front will have a disproportionate impact on you. You will not see when things go wrong or change and will be more likely to crash or be left behind.
Always Be Moving Forward
In the peloton, if you merely try to defend or protect your position, you will actually be moving backward over time. You need to always be actively moving forward to stay in the front of the pack. In business, the same thing applies. If you are not actively learning and growing, but defending your position by doing what you’ve always done, you are actually moving backward. You will soon find yourself in the back of the pack. So, what are some techniques for moving forward?
So, what are some tips for actually achieving forward movement? How can you advance your position?“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” – Lyndon B. Johnson Click To Tweet
Work with Teammates
Many people don’t realise that cycling is a team sport. The team has a strategy and someone on the team that is going to try to win. They work together to ensure optimal position of the team members. In a similar way, find a teammate at work to help you. Look for someone who knows how to navigate the peloton and follow them to the front. Good teammates are easy to spot. They are solid and consistent and are not distracted by the bumping and jostling that happens in the group. Good teammates work together for a win. They will even celebrate with you when you win, because it was a team effort.
Shadow Someone You Admire
Everyone in a bicycle race knows the racers to watch. They are the admired, seasoned members of the peloton. If you are not sure what to do in a race, a good tactic is to shadow the movements of one of the best racers. This is also a great tactic in a career. Find someone who you admire, who other people also admire, and try to emulate them. You never know, one day you may even follow them to exactly the right spot and out-sprint them for the win!
For most racers, learning to read a race and know when and where to exert effort is difficult. It takes practice and does not come naturally. Similarly, you may find yourself in a place in your career where you’ve done all the preparation, but the conditions of racing are confusing and you can’t seem to get ahead. Racers often attend clinics to practice and improve. Maybe you will want to take a class or get a coach. Investing time and effort in learning new things will almost certainly pay dividends for advancement.
Sometimes the winner of the race comes from the peloton and other times from a breakaway. Solo breakaways are extremely risky and almost never work. People who can pull them off are very entrepreneurial and can spot a good risk, at the right time, for them. For most of us, breaking away works better with a small group and has a much higher chance of success. The others in your group will help carry the effort to stay ahead of the race. If you feel the need to break out of the group to achieve your goals, find people to join you. Shatter the status quo by working together to propose a new way of doing things or a new product idea.