Yesterday I went on a long bike ride with my 14-year-old son Trevor. We planned on going 35 miles (due to oncomming storms we stopped at 31 miles). We are in training to ride together in the MS 150 this year. The MS 150 is a 150 miles ride from Houston to Austin Texas at the end of April.
Sometime around mile 26 I was deep in the suffering and my mind began to wander. I started to realize there are lessons I was learning on the bike that are relevant to my work. here are a couple of the things that come to mind.
You’ve got to ride your ride, not the ride your buddies are on.
This is a hard one for me. I’m big and I’m slow. About the only time I’m ‘fast’ is when I’m going down a long hill. Does that stop me from riding with my 14-year-old son (he is small, strong and fast)? Not at all. He rides his ride, I ride mine. We start together, we meet up and rest together, otherwise, I let him do his ride and I do mine. In my work, I think the lesson here is that I need to let my career be what it is, and not get caught up in comparing myself to my peers and/or mentors.
Another hard lesson. It’s better to get up to speed slowly and stay there than it is to coast. the longer you coast, the harder it is to get back up to speed. I’m not an efficient rider (yet), but this is something I’m working on. In my career, I’ve learned this the hard way more than once (I’m a slow learner). Now I pride myself on continuous improvement. I learn new skills slowly, and I work those skills into my day so they will always be ready when needed (no coasting).
Hills are part of the ride.
I hate riding hills. I hate riding into the wind. I hate when I am forced to stop for traffic half way up (or down) a hill. These things happen. Yes, I can choose my route (sometimes), but hills still happen. The wind doesn’t care. It’s the same with work. When I’m deep in the shit at 10am on a Monday morning I know it’s just a hill. I’ll climb it, I’ll move on. Sometimes a short walk, a cup of coffee or 10 minutes of silent meditation at my desk help me crest whatever hill I’m facing. You’ll have your own strategies. The important part is to just keep on peddling.
Take care of your equipment.
I ride sort of a hybrid street bike now. It’s got the drop handlebars like a street bike, the gears are pretty forgiving, and the tires are a little fatter than the tires my son rides. He mocks my fat tires, says they slow me down. Maybe, I don’t mind so much because they also let me ride gravel (when needed). It’s a good bike when I take care of it. It’s an engine of suffering when I don’t. I’ve learned that not oiling my chain every couple rides makes the rides harder. I’ve learned that being 15 pounds low on air in my tires makes my rides significantly harder. The same goes for my work. I now block time every day to manage email, every week to tidy up my files on my desktop (I dump way too many files to my windows desktop, it’s a bad old habit). I also take care of myself. Today is day 759 in a program I call #NewMe. Every day I spend 30 minutes doing something healthy for myself. Most days it’s a brutal 30 minute workout at lunch with my buddies at the local rec center. Some days I take a nap, or do silent meditation, or just sitting on a bench in a park and enjoying the shade and the breeze in the trees. Dedicating 30 minutes to myself every day has changed my life. It’s made me happier, more focused and in general a lot easier to be around. You should try it.