#91 - Dicing with Death
Maniac, close call, and calmer
The closest I’ve come to dying came in 2018.
At the hands of a chap named Pete.
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It was summer. I’d arranged a lift with Pete to a weekend away in Wales.
As soon as he arrived I knew I was in for an interesting ride.
Pete’s a character. As we drove through West London he talked non-stop. About life as a letting agent, agricultural college, and his colourful weekend antics.
He could maintain a conversation in an empty house, I’m sure. But, I have to say, after a long week it was rather nice. The constant chatter was relaxing.
What was not relaxing was his driving.
He’s a maniac behind the wheel. Fighting for every inch, flooring it at every opportunity.
The traffic worsened coming out of London. At least an hour stood still. Pete was enraged. A five hour journey had just got longer.
Not if he had anything to do about it.
At the first sign of traffic clearing Pete went for it. He weaved in and out of traffic. 100mph came and went.
Not for a moment did he stop talking. After some initial tension I found myself calm. He seemed composed. It’s with the gods now. I thought.
The Gods, it turns out, had a fright in store for us.
We bounced down the right hand lane at quite a speed.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a small, white, fiat 500 pull into the middle lane. I hope they’ve seen us. I mused.
Pete sped on.
We closed on the Fiat 500 fast.
When, to my horror, they began pulling into our lane.
Everything in our car seemed to freeze.
We must have been going 120mps.
It was far too late to slow down.
The Fiat pulled out further.
My stomach dropped.
Contact looked certain.
Is this it?
And then we were past them.
The Fiat swerved left. Pete and I let out a collective breath. We looked at each other in shock. It can’t have been more than a couple of centimetres.
As we sped off- no slower I might add- I couldn’t help feel some admiration for Pete.
He may have got us into that situation but he kept his head. If he’d tried to brake, or turn out the way, we would’ve been toast. I’m not sure I would have got us through that.
I took a lesson from that day with Pete.
Sometimes the only way is through. When things are tough and looking bad. That’s when it’s most important to keep your head.
The best leaders get calmer in a crisis. That’s when they’re needed most. It’s when they really prove their worth.
Problems compound when heads are lost. When things are bad and the pressure gets too much.
It’s amazing just how resilient startups are. If you keep your head that is. I’ve seen it play out again and again with founders I know and admire.
The same is true of life. As Mr Kipling (not that one) once said:
If you can keep your head whilst all around you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you but make allowance for their doubting too…
A rare skill indeed.
My Week in Books📚
Good Sugar Bad Sugar by Allen Carr
So good. I’ve ready many books on diet, this one is the best and simplest. Allen Carr was a genius. It’s shame his books are less talked about these days.
A Final Thought 💡
“In times of upheaval, people wish for nothing more than composure and sincerity.”
- Martin Schulz