Published on Forbes.com October 1, 2014
Achieving and exceeding your personal performance goals is a challenging endeavor, yet simpler than you might think.
“I thought of that while riding my bike,” said Albert Einstein when he was asked how he came up with the theory of relativity. He is also credited with saying, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” We have written often about getting off the couch, away from the computer and in to the game of life and work.
We recently took our own advice as about a dozen members of our team at Fishbowl recently completed a 425-mile bike race from Salt Lake City to St. George, Utah, finishing in approximately 20.5 hours. We didn’t discover anything on the magnitude of Einstein during our bike ride. Nevertheless, we did come up with a few sage lessons that might help you discover a new level of performance. The race pushed us to the limit and beyond, and we accomplished more than we ever thought possible as a team and as individuals. Never having raced on a bike before, I gave it my all and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it didn’t kill me.
During the race, I wasn’t the CEO, the old guy, or the leader of the pack, and the other guys didn’t wear their work roles, either. Caravanning in a small RV, jumping into trucks to move forward to transition points, riding, resting, and eating together, we became one cohesive unit with a common goal: finish the ride honorably for one another, our company Fishbowl, and for Bryan Byrge, our fellow employee who lost his life earlier this year in a biking accident.
“In Honor of a Fallen Friend” highlights the outcomes of the race and why we rode for Bryan. The race brought out the best in us all as adrenaline, exhaustion, the smell of sweat, and hard work removed all pretense and labels.
We finished strong, and a bond was refortified that perhaps remained dormant for a few seasons. Bryan taught us that our greatest strength is an unconditional love for one another and somewhere, somehow we remembered the love and let go of the fear, hurt, and pain that we had carried on our personal journeys. To ride fast, one must ride light, exposed to life and the elements.
To prepare for the race, many of us rode stationary bikes for several months. We built muscles and endurance, but we really weren’t going anywhere. There comes a time when we need to take the training wheels off and trust that our natural instincts and knowledge will kick in to gear. Yes, we are going to fall, and get scraped up sometimes.
We all fall off the proverbial bike from time to time, and it can represent a crossroads in our journey. Some of our best work can take place outside of the office, the computer, and the prescribed work plan. After a fall, we can choose to sit in the middle of the road and tell the story of falling off the bike over and over and let life pass us by or brush ourselves off, head up the road, and be grateful for the learning experience.
Here are the life lessons from our road trip that we share with hopes that you will saddle up and go for the ride of your life and achieve your personal best.
Make a plan and stick to it. We often fail to prepare. A successful bike ride or work endeavor begins months before the race. Both wheels of the bicycle need correct air pressure for a smooth ride. The gears on your bike and in your head need to all work and be in a condition to move up and down to be the most efficient no matter what the inclines and declines of life have in store.
Don’t focus on your previous falls, which can throw you off balance. Focus on the wisdom gained, and move forward stronger.
Give it all you’ve got to move upward and forward. It may feel like you are using everything you have, but you will still have some fuel left. Pedal like there is no tomorrow. Don’t leave this world with paths not traveled and gears not used. Growth and healing begin when we accept who we are, forgive others, and travel light. You are going to hit rough patches in life. Do your best to fall forward.
Jared DuPree, PhD, MBA, an avid cyclist, and CEO ofSt. George Health & Wellness Magazine recently shared with our team some of his thoughts on the topic and his favorite quote that inspires him, “Sometimes we are meant to comfort the afflicted; sometimes we are meant to afflict the comfortable.”
Jared reminds us that there will be times when we need to get up, brush ourselves off, and “comfort” ourselves as we heal our wounds. However, many of us need to “afflict the comfortable” as we get out of our comfort zone and push forward through the difficulties of life.
Jared goes on to explain, “It is not uncommon for us to want to give up when we are riding up that steep hill or getting back to the race after a disappointing fall. What is the secret?
“Knowing when to heal after pain versus knowing when to inflict some pain on ourselves temporarily as we engage in hard things is a key point.
“It may sound strange but some level of pain helps us get through the difficult times and even surpass them. There is a difference between allowing pain and difficulty to rule our lives and using pain to help understand, heal, and connect. Many of us avoid pain, inflict pain on others out of spite or numb pain with temporary reliefs – all of these responses are typical when we want to get rid of pain quickly. Healing and growing are different – in many ways it requires more pain. The pain of pushing through the challenge, rising above the difficulty or even overcoming doubt leads to true change. It is through the pain that we learn who we are and our relationship with others. The pain of the race is a shadow of how we handle the pains of life.”
Riding as a team produces better results in the long run. In road racing, cyclists who are part of a group can save up to 40 percent in energy expenditures over a cyclist who is not drafting with a group. To draft effectively, a cyclist needs to be as close as possible to the bicycle in front of him.
Many professional cyclists get within inches of the bicycle in front of them. The shorter the distance the larger the decrease in wind resistance, explains Jameson King, a fellow Salt to Saint rider and former elite triathlete.
We write a lot about paired leadership and teams. Pulling and drafting are essential for the success of paired leaders. The success of the pair comes in instinctively knowing how to pull and draft and when to relieve the person who is pulling.
When a team of cyclists share the roles of leading and drafting in a long, hard bike ride, they are able to bike much longer and faster than they could otherwise because of the energy they’ve saved. They achieve more challenging goals and strengthen their team.
It took me approximately 10 miles of riding to fully understand my biking partner’s patterns to successfully draft with him. In many ways, I was putting my life in his hands and his in mine. A new level of trust was born in myself and in my fellow rider.
The race concluded on Saturday. We rested on Sunday and brought the energy of the ride and experience into the office on Monday. Many of our greatest work lessons take place outside of work.
We look forward to hearing from you. For additional information on this topic and to enjoy some pictures from the race, go to here.
The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning is available from Amazon.