The Importance of a Friendly Attitude

June 19, 2019

Jacques Laffite was a French racing driver who competed in #FormulaOne from 1974 to 1986. His easy-going and friendly attitude made him one of the most beloved personalities in the racing sport.

 

He witnessed a shift in Formula One of the talented drivers who enjoyed racing as much as they enjoyed partying afterwards, to the dedicated drivers who wanted to win races and had more of a professional mindset. However, Laffite had some trouble adjusting to the new professional atmosphere. This was particularly true during his second term at Williams’ Formula One racing team in 1983, as Frank Williams (founder and team principal) hated the fact that Laffite was always late to team's meetings.

 

One day, Frank Williams warned everyone: "Our next meeting will start on time! Those who arrive late will be fined, and it will be expensive!" Obviously, everyone made sure to arrive on time to the next meeting; Everyone that is except Laffite! And that made Williams very angry.

 

Patrick Head (Williams' co-founder and Engineering Director) recalls the meeting: "To make matters worse, we could all see from the window that Laffite was slowly heading towards our meeting place, grinning cheerfully and taking his time to greet and tease everyone he met on the way. Frank immediately told us that he would teach him a lesson, and when Laffite finally entered the room, we were all quietly waiting to see what would happen."

 

However, Williams didn't even have the chance to speak. Head further recounts: "With his casual attitude, Laffite said in his typical English with a notorious French accent: 'Boys, I have spent the last 15 days watching films to improve my English and I think I got it!' He walked closer to Frank Williams and asked him: 'What's new pussycat?' And then kissed his forehead! We all laughed out loud and even Frank couldn't help to laugh too. It was a really funny thing to watch, and pretty much the end of fines and lessons..."

 

Laffite's example shows that having a friendly approach to others in life helps to build a healthy environment both in and out of the workplace and is something that everyone notices and appreciates. Wouldn't the world be a much better place if everyone had this attitude?

 

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