Hi everyone, this one’s for all my fellow mountain bikers and leaders. I’m just getting back from a mountain biking trip to Arkansas where I arrived at the conclusion there’s some similarities in what it takes to be successful on the bike, and in professional and personal pursuits.
One of the hardest things to train yourself to do when mountain biking is to look 10-15 feet down the trail instead of what’s right in front of your tire, but it’s a critical skill if you want to succeed on the bike. This gives your brain time to understand what’s coming (rock, turn, root) and formulate a plan to successfully go over or around it. If you look down and focus on what’s directly in front of your tire, you end up making continuous adjustments and not being comfortable with any amount of speed. This makes for a jerky and awkward experience which limits the fun and can discourage people from riding more.
The same thing happens in business to leaders who get bogged down in the daily business and don’t look up and out at what’s coming in the future. This doesn’t give them time to properly prepare for the next challenge and ends up adding to the stressful cycle they’re caught up in, fighting whatever fire is raging that day. It’s just as difficult to train yourself to look farther ahead in business as it is on the bike, but it’s also every bit as important to achieving success and enjoying the experience. Just like your brain figures out and automatically adjusts your body to compensate for obstacles in the trail, your team will figure out the best way to run the daily business if you tell them what’s coming.
The second similarity is the effect that confidence and drive have both on the bike and in business. On the bike, if you believe you’re going to crash, then you’re absolutely going to crash because you’ll be so focused on not crashing that you won’t be doing the things you need to be to take the trail on. You won’t be aggressively pursuing excellence, instead you’ll be trying to avoid failure…. The same is true in business if you focus on avoiding failure, as you’ll end up in a declining state because you aren’t pursuing the things that lead to success in the current or future environment.
Our actions follow where our thoughts are so show up each day with a strong drive and focus on how to be successful, not how to avoid failure. Inspire confidence in the team by looking ahead for opportunities and obstacles so a plan can be set in motion to find success. Show up strong. Get out there. Take some risks, and have fun doing it!