Tim Cusack: Blog Entry

Working in the Slipstream

Riding in the Slipstream

Riding in the Slipstream

In early spring and late fall in the Midwest you’ll hear sounds of honking geese flying overhead. When your eyes find the source of the sound, you’ll witness nature’s aerodynamic efficiency in the ā€œVā€ formation of the flock, otherwise known as the ‘slipstream.’

To conserve energy and increase endurance find the slipstream. NASCAR racers, long distance runners and cyclists all know that by placing themselves just inches behind the one in front of them, they can travel at the same speed with 30% less effort.

A great event to witness the slipstream in action is the Tour de France. A stage or segment of this race can be 120 miles long, but if you watch the last few miles you’ll see the same colored team jerseys line up single-file four to five deep, everyone peddling as fast as they can. One by one the lead cyclist or lead-out rider will peal off the front, each in turn keeping the pace as fast as possible, until the team sprinter is delivered yards from the finish to catapult (hopefully) across the finish line first.

Now think about how you can use this same brilliant concept in your workplace. Sharing leadership opportunities, speaking words of encouragement, staying strong for someone on your team is creating a process for conserving energy, boosting performance and increasing endurance ā€“ a slipstream.

This also works in our personal lives. When my son loses a tennis match his coach consoles and encourages him. When my daughter trips up on a few notes during a piano recital, her teacher reminds her how much she got right. In both of these examples, the leader is breaking the headwinds of life ā€“ creating a slipstream making it easier to endure the long flight of life.