Days of thunder

I find there is no limit to the wisdom one can attain from NASCAR. In full disclosure, “Days of Thunder” ain’t no “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” With that wisdom under our helmets, let us consider one of the main lessons of stock car racing: Drive through the smoke.

In “Days of Thunder,” Robert Duvall assures Tom Cruise he can drive through the smoke and come out the other side of the wreck, but if he hits the brakes or swerves, he’s gonna be part of the mess he’s trying to avoid. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? NOTHING. That’s my point. Worries about the price of tea in China or North Korea or Capitol Hill are mostly smoke and no fire. Just drive straight through.

In 30 years of doing business in this town with the financially successful and the not so successful, I have noticed one common thread in the former: They are, by and large, ignorant.

What? Come again? Don’t I mean the unsuccessful are ignorant? Nope.

The successful are ignorant but not in the traditional sense. Not in “I don’t read” or “I’ve lived in a cave for the last twenty years” ways. More in the way of “Gosh, I wasn’t aware the economy was so bad when I started my multimillion dollar business” or “I wasn’t aware that tax policy was stacked against me when I opened my fourth profitable restaurant.”

This kind of ignorance/genius is selective ignorance —the ability to drown out the noise or, for our purposes, “drive through the smoke.” With the advent of social media, there is smoke everywhere — even when there is no wreck. Smoke from the media, politically out of control Facebook friends, do-nothing politicians, and know-it-all relatives. Smoke, but often no fire.

Sure, there are fires, but I’ve got news for you: Most are gonna burn whether you try to put them out or not. Allowing yourself to focus on the many wrecks, real or imagined, is a surefire way to end up on pit row wondering what happened in turn four.

Economically successful people pay no attention to the spinning cars and/or the crowd longing for the dramatic. Media hype about interest rates and overblown conspiracies are tools of inaction.

Again, I’m not denying stuff happens. Tough! Turn off the TV and get to work on whatever it is you’ve been blaming the last three administrations for keeping you from. In short, mash the hell out of the accelerator and drive straight for the smoke ’cause we all know: “If you ain’t first, you’re last” (Will Ferell as Ricky Bobby).

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