Witnessing For The Team

May. 01, 2001 By Dan Canfield

Here we are in the month of May and another season is winding down or even over depending on where you live. One could say its been a good year. Snow returned to much of the snowbelt which helped snowmobile sales out dramatically. Lots more people were out on the trails and in the backcountry enjoying the sport. After a bit of confusion, George Bush won the Whitehouse and at least gives us hope that some of the strange environmental policies of the Clinton era will be reviewed and changed. Arctic Cat had a good year with their 4-stroke machines in Yellowstone, Polaris announced they will have one for next year, and Cat is offering the 4-stroker to the general public in a couple of different touring packages. And finally the students in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge showed that even 2-stroke motors can be made to run much cleaner and efficient while maintaining performance.

On a different note though, things haven't been too good this year. We lost way too many friends and fellow riders to accidents last year. Whether it was on a trail, in an avalanche, or crossing a road we lost some good people last season to death and that is sad. Some will point to drinking and riding as a problem, others will say lack of education or awareness, and still others point to speed as the reasons. I'm not going to spend time on debating these different points... yes, they all contributed to some of our loss. But a lot of our friends passed by accident and whether you can identify a cause or not, its still a sad thing to loose them.

Ultimately our sport is like most other sports... we have good and bad things happen regularly. But it is still our sport and we must always be vigilant in our efforts to defend and preserve it. I find it amazing that people who eat, sleep and breath snowmobiles will publicly bash the manufactures for what they perceived as the lack of attention to some issue. Yea, maybe that is true, but we (the manufactures, the riders, the snowmobiling press) are in this together and we ought to act that way. Showing an air of contention to our enemies does nothing but make them happy and gives the impression that we are divided and weak. I'm not saying we should just take whatever is said at face value, but when it comes to dealing with our enemies its imperative that we are united.

In my other life as an IT professional I have been practicing something called "witnessing". It would do us good as a snowmobile and off-road community in general to practice it. This is how it works. We look at each other, be it manufactures, snowmobilers, dirt bikers, 4x4'ers, atv'ers, ect. as a team. Whenever the situation arises where we are involved in discussions we "witness" positively for the other members of the team. I'm sitting in a Forest Service meeting and someone starts saying how ATVs destroy vegetation. I may not be an ATV rider, but they are on my team, so I stand up and say, "The ATV riders I know are very responsible about riding where they are allowed to and they dislike the few bad apples who don't". I've just witnessed for the ATV'ers. Or someone says, "The manufactures are only interested in making money". I respond, "Did you know that Arctic Cat and Polaris have spent millions over the past couple of years to develop a quiet, clean 4-stroke snowmobile which right now has a limited market potential? That sounds like they are concerned about the future, not just the money". Again, I've just witnessed for a member of the team.

This strategy is remarkably affective. I've seen entire organizations transformed into the most productive, unified teams you can imagine. Yes, they still have discussions, sometime heated, on what they should be accomplishing, but the respect that each member has for the others helps them to work towards the teams common good. And ultimately that's what the motorized recreational community needs... good team work toward our common good.


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