It’s May, my favorite month in Indy. The temperature is perfect, the rain has stopped, the flowers are in bloom, and the cars are on the track. Yes, it is true, I am a race geek.   I love the cars, the drivers, the back story and the history. I have a favorite spot high in turn one for qualifications, and there is nothing quite like the feeling when you hear Mari Hulman George squeak out, “ladies and gentleman start your engines!”

Watching the race each year, one thing is obvious: winning teams can’t sit on their laurels. If Ganassi Racing assumed that since they won last year they don’t need to change anything in their setup or engine configuration, it’s a pretty safe bet they wouldn’t win this year. If they continued to hold all elements constant, they would fall further and further behind their competitors at each race.

Why? Because racing is a competitive business. Someone is always raising the stakes, trying something new and challenging the status quo. Not every change works–for example, the 2012 Lotus engine program was a spectacular failure. But if you aren’t willing to explore new options, sooner or later you will be left in the dust.

Starting in the front row for the 2012 Indy 500

The truth is, most businesses are competitive. While the stakes may not be as high as they are in professional racing, if it’s your business or your career, the stakes are extremely high for you. So what are you doing to make sure you finish the race on the podium? Are you:

Investing in equipment? Are you still carrying around a flip phone because it’s fine to make calls? Well, it is, but you’re missing out on all sorts of mobile opportunities.  In early 2012, more than half of all the mobile phones in the US were smartphones. Today, the number is even higher. Without a smartphone and the advantages it provides, you are running behind half your competitors in your ability to access and share critical information when you are not at your desk. If your PC or laptop is more than three years old, there is a good chance it isn’t running the way it used to. Sure you can clean it up, but you are probably better off just donating it to a worthy charity and getting a new one.

Testing new fuel? I know, it is a lot to keep up with. Just when you finally got used to the idea that Facebook and Twitter aren’t only for kids, it seems there are all these other platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and now Vine. I am not saying you need to be on all of them, but just like the race teams, you need to be testing different fuel mixtures to see what makes your marketing engine run best.

Learning new skills?  Even the best drivers continue to train and practice. What about you? When was the last time you took a course, watched a webinar, read a book or learned a new skill?

In racing and business, if you are standing still, you are going to get passed. Make a commitment today to do the things you need to do to find yourself in the winners circle.

photo credit: Lorraine Ball