The wind was blowing so hard even the old maple in the front yard was creaking back and forth. The bus was late, and the snow was mounting into 4-foot drifts. I looked at my 5-year-old son, Oakley, standing by the front door. He was zipped up tight in his down puffer jacket and fleece Elmer Fudd cap. He looked like a little Michelin Man. My 10-year-old daughter, Kendall, was standing next to him in her ski jacket and matching hat and gloves.
“Want me to walk you out to the bus?” I asked them.
“No way! I don’t want anyone to see you helping me. I can help Oakley on my own,” Kendall insisted.
Oakley looked up at her with a worried face. “Are you sure we have school today?”
“Yup,” Kendall answered. “A little snow won’t stop us. Got your backpack?”
As the big yellow bus pulled up at the end of the driveway, I opened the door. The wind and snow swirled inside. Kendall turned to Oakley and said, “I’ll go first. Just step where I step.”
They shoved off into the storm. I stood there and nursed my coffee, watching my kids make their way across the front yard. Though the snow was coming down, I could make out a pretty magical sight: Kendall was making a path for her younger brother. She was leading the way, and he buried his face into her backpack and just stepped where she did. She led him all the way from the door, across the lawn and onto that warm bus without so much as a flake hitting his face. She had blazed the trail, and he had followed. That’s the power of drafting behind someone else.
Cyclists and car racers do it all the time. When you move at high speed, you produce a wake of air behind you. If you get behind a cyclist, a truck or your older sister, the wake pushes you forward. Scientists have proven that when you draft, you exert 30 percent less effort than the person you are tailing. Same is true in life. If it has never been done before, you will bring a hell of a lot more angst and fear to your effort. Just imagine if Oakley had tried to walk out to that bus alone. If you know you are following behind someone else who’s blazing the trail and creating a wake for you, it will be easier.
For anything you want to do, simply identify two people in the world who are doing or have done what you would like to do, then devote yourself to learning as much as you can about them and how they got to where they are. Just step wherever they have stepped, and you will exert 30 percent less emotional effort in reaching your goals.
Of course, it’s also pretty cool to be in front and lead the way. You’ve got the opportunity right now to mentor someone, take an informational meeting or hire an intern. When you blaze a trail for someone else, it’s an amazing way to bolster your enjoyment of life.
By the time they reached that bus, Oakley was relieved to be safe, but Kendall was exhilarated from pulling Oakley along in her wake.