If I was asked where I learned my leadership skills (or lack thereof 🙂 some of you would think “Navy” , however I can tell you, while I probably honed my leadership skills (or lack thereof 🙂 while serving in the navy, I would answer “cycling”. For me it’s not too far a stretch from Cycling to Leadership and to Life in general and I see the two being very much part of my every day existence.
Let me start from the beginning…..
Like most folks my journey began while I was growing up (anyone disagree ?) in the suburbs of Wayne NJ in a loving and caring household. I was the youngest of 5 children and I was the only boy. Both my parents worked, my father as an accountant for the City and part time Police Officer, and my mom as a registered nurse. Growing up I witnessed firsthand many things that I carry with me to this day from my parents. My Dad always believed in working hard and was never seen without a shirt and tie while at work. Now you’re asking yourself what that has to do with cycling and leadership and honestly I don’t have a clue but thought it would add something to your reading and give credit to both my Mom and Dad. Watching my Mom work as a registered nurse had a profound affect in my life as I witnessed her kind and gentle hand providing comfort to those in need. Later on in my life, I would have the occasion to use these same skills in providing similar support to others both inside and outside of my family.
Back in the day when both parents worked full time and there was no Facebook , yes there was a day without Fb or Twitter, or any social media sites to occupy a child’s time, the only method by which kids could get around was either bicycle or sneaker power. I chose cycling as my means which continues to this very day. I found great joy in having the freedom to go to places and visit friends using my bike. In many cases I would leave early in the morning and go visit friends and other places and return later in the day easily covering 20+ miles before returning home. I think the love of the freedom a cycling adventure can provide still holds true today as it did many years ago.
I have developed what I call my Seven Golden Rules Of Cycling and as you will see they easily transcend to anyone in a Leadership role and to life in general.
1)Team (Family) is the reason we do what we do…
I believe in surrounding yourself with people whom you trust without reservations. In cycling as in life, you surround yourself with people you trust and respect. For all that I ride with, I trust both their skills and talents and if I allow you to “grab my wheel” or if “I grab your wheel” I trust you to do it right. I also believe in helping coach and train others to do it right. I am more likely to welcome a newcomer to the cycling world who admits never to have cycled before than to ride with someone who has proven they don’t know what they are doing. As in life, those that I surround myself with I trust with the same sort of respect and trust.
2) The best yard stick on your performance in a ride is in your heart and body…
As a cyclist who enjoys pushing oneself physically as well as mentally I have learned that no matter what your cycling computer may say regarding your effort, mileage ridden; average speed etc…and all the other readily available “geeky” stats that you may have available, the real gauge to how you are doing is in your heart and body. If your heart and/or body are telling you things that you are ignoring you are doing it wrong. Injuries are part of everyday life both on and off the bike and in both you need to know when to stay stop. This is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn for someone who loves any sport. For me taking time off the bike to heal is without a doubt more demanding mentally than one can imagine.
3) All hills and mountains eventually end…For every uphill there is a downhill…
No matter how rough the road there is either in life or cycling there is always an end and an opportunity for a new beginning. Like life, cycling has numerous challenges that from an initial glimpse may appear to be over whelming (remember mile 85 at the Tour de Chocolate!!) however with the right people supporting you, nothing should be considered insurmountable or unreachable. Surround yourself with people who will refuse to see you fail.
4) It’s ok to go out on your own “to be a flyer”
In cycling there is always one or two individuals that go out on their own and attempt to be that “flyer”. 90% of the time they are caught before the finish line, however on those rare occasions where the flyer actually succeeds in winning a race they are usually remembered for their attempt and commended for their action. All those that ride with me know that I am usually the flyer. It’s not because I don’t want to ride with you, but I want to push my own limits knowing that 90% of the time I will fail but you will and have never failed to pick me up and help drag me back to the finish line. To me a successful ride is an opportunity to push the limits with the full confidence even when I fail, I know full well that those that I am riding with will pick me up and help carry me to the finish line.
5) Determination and the will to WIN must be evident.
The trust in your team and their expertise, skills, training and motivation should be equally evident. To me there is nothing more important than believing in your team’s ability even when you are questioning your own ability. This became evident in my 2013 Tour De Chocolate, despite my own reservations about completing the 100 mile “hill” adventure there was no question that together we would all successfully complete the journey. There is not one member of the team that didn’t help me compete the journey and I will be forever grateful.
6) When developing a plan or planning a daily ride expect and accept the unexpected.
Both in life and in cycling there is always a plan, however the ability and willingness to modify the plan is a necessary skill easily overlooked and unappreciated by many. This is a daily occurrence for me in both my professional as a Project manager as well as on those days that I ride. The ability to understand and probably more to the point accept the uncontrollable and adjust as necessary can never be overlooked. While riding, the ability to understand that a planned 50mile ride is only the target and not something set in stone.
7) Drink !!!
Both in life and cycling it is extremely important to Drink !!! need I say more..
There you have it, my 7 Golden Rules of Cycling and how cycling directly correlates to Leadership both on the bike and in life….
Thanks for Checking in…