A couple of weeks back I experienced a first, I rode in the largest bicycle event in the world. Over 15,000 fellow cyclists got up early that Sunday morning for a chance to tour
I rode with a group of 6 guys loosely related through my day job. Typical of men there was talk of the team, the win, the race. We would all run together, pacing each other crossing the finish line victorious. Well that all broke down in mile 2. Three of us rode the first ten miles at a 15 mph pace, the rest of the group at 12. All the bravado of “team” evaporated. The three of us continued on then another member fell back. Two of us doggedly rode on through the streets of LA, a friend who is all but a professional cyclist and myself. This guy’s idea of fun is riding 200+ miles in a day to where ever. He regularly rides and places well in 100 mile races. Me, well, I ride a lot to but not like that. I love riding off road and up hill. Three or four times a week I will pace out an 8 mile route. Every now and again I take a roads only route and go 12 miles. But 22.5 miles, in one day, could I do it?
I was well prepared for the race. I wore the right gear breathable fabrics to move perspiration away from my skin. Throughout the race I was never hot or cold, this is a good thing. I wore my helmet, gloves, riding shorts, I was comfortable in the saddle. I even had a camel pack so cool water was readily available all race long. I was ready for a ride of a lifetime. Ride I did. I did not even think about stopping throughout the tour. For me this was a challenge could I go the distance, keeping pace. I made only one quick stop to change out my gloves and put on my Ipod. I start each day reading a Bible podcast today would be no different.
I rode and rode at 15 miles I was tired, at 20 I was unsure I could make it. At 22 I was feeling invincible I could go on for another 10 miles. A turned a corner and it was over, 22.5 miles finished.
What lessons did I take away from the tour. There were a few.
When I was a boy scout this was our motto. A leader should always strive to be prepared. Consider what is expected to happen, and what could happen. Consider what preparation might be required to ensure you are not surprised along the way.
Surprises might be fun at parties but in leadership they should be avoided whenever possible through preparation.
Enjoy the ride
Throughout the morning I was so focused on riding the route and finishing that my focus was on the goal. I lost sight of the “tour” aspect of the event and focused on the goal. Every now and again I would take in the vista, look at the scenes, the neighborhoods, the peoples only to snap back into race mode. I was acutely aware of what I had missed at the finish line as disappointment flashed through me. That is it?! It is over?!
Sometimes the leaders journey itself is a significant part of the destination, if not the destination itself. Learn to enjoy the ride.
Less Talk and More Action
I learned a while ago that there is a time for talking and a time for doing. Often they are mutually exclusive activities. I do not mean you cannot talk as you are doing what I mean is that knowing when to do something instead of talking about doing something is a critical leadership skill. There is a fine line between vision casting and day dreaming. The difference lies in execution…doing something!
Remember to balance consideration with execution