Lessons From a Bike Ride

You may remember my post a few weeks months ago when I bought a new bicycle to use to help get me in shape for the Party Plan Divas Seminar at Sea. Well, I must admit, ever since I bought it I have been so busy, I have not had the discipline to ride it – until today!  Who knew that what was supposed to be a “simple bike ride” could teach me so much!

I live in a very nice “suburban” style subdivision which honestly, before I moved in last year – I had no idea even existed. I joked that this must be the one and only subdivision in Pensacola that I have never done a party in!  I knew the subdivision was large, having been told the story that there we actually three “phases” and I had moved into the third and final “phase.”  I had never really thought about what size a “phase” would be – I really had no idea JUST how large it is.  Until today.

I set out a little before 9am before it was too hot to just have a nice “ride around the neighborhood.”  I discovered that if I went into each cul-de-sac that they were all uphill, so I could get a good little workout and then “coast” while I let my legs rest for a few seconds before pedaling again.  I was probably about 20 minutes into my ride when I saw a sign that said “No Outlet” so I assumed it was another cul-de-sac.  What it should have said was “Point Of No Return.”

I am not sure how long it took me to realize that I was completely, utterly lost, but when the realization hit, I nearly panicked. I had been mesmerized looking at houses,  the beautifully manicured lawns, pretty landscaping.  I looked around me and realized I had absolutely NO idea where I was, where I was headed, or even what direction “home” was.  I remember thinking I should take my phone in case anyone called – but I was “only going to be a few minutes” so I left it.  I remember wishing I had my GPS.

I saw no signs of life – not even a car in a driveway, so there was no one to even ask for directions.I kept pedaling though, thinking eventually I would have to at least find a street name I would recognize.  I started thinking that this bike ride was turning into a Gilligan’s Island tour and cracked up – nearly wrecking the bicycle.  It was a good thing no one was there to see – they may have taken me in for lunacy.

By this time my legs were KILLING me.  If you read my Tweets or Facebook about buying the bike, I mentioned how it had probably been 10 years since I had ridden a bicycle.  Needless to say, when I woke up this morning, I had no intention of working my legs to the point of Jell-O.

Finally, nearly an hour later, I saw a familiar street. Though I was crushed that I realized I was still a  LONG ways from home, it was inspiring to at least see something I recognized.  I talked my legs into continuing to pedal, and a little while later I was coasting (thankfully) into my driveway.

As I got in the shower I was amused thinking about how my little ride had been so metaphorical with my life lately.  I will admit, I got LOST a few weeks ago.  I am not afraid to admit it.   I was looking for a way to lighten the load and “coast” through a couple parts of my life that I was tired of working on.  I started thinking of different paths, different behaviors, instead of focusing on the things that mattered most – like my direction.

We all get off course, take a wrong turn, or make the wrong choice that leaves us with a sense of being lost.  We abandon a course when we think there might be a “faster” or “easier” way to achieve the goal, often resulting in failure. What I learned today is if you “just keep pedaling” – you can find your way back, get back on the right path, and make it home.  You may get some bumps and bruises (or INCREDIBLY sore Jell-O legs!) along the way, but it will make “coasting in to home” that much sweeter.

If you have abandoned your path, fallen off the wagon, or let some things slide – I encourage you to “just keep pedaling” to find your way back.  Tomorrow I will set out on my bicycle again – with not only the knowledge of where NOT to turn, but also with the confidence that if I get lost again, that I can – and will – find my way home.

Top Ten Tuesday – Overcoming Failure

Failure is not falling down. Failure is not getting back up.

~Ancient Chinese Proverb

Everyone hates to fail – or hates the idea of failing.  Even as children we are taught that there is nothing much worse than failing at something.  Failing a class.   Failing to keep your room clean.  Failing to get picked for the football team.   We put such an enormously negative energy around failing, it is no wonder we grow up to fear that word more than any other.

Most people do not realize that you MUST fail in order to succeed.   How many times did Thomas Edison “fail” when inventing the light bulb?   How many times did Alexander Graham Bell “fail” with the telephone?  It is the education that you learn from each failure that brings you closer to your success.   So how do you overcome failure?

1. Learn from your mistakes. Do you remember learning how to ride a bike? I am willing to bet you fell down… a lot. But every time, you got back up, dusted yourself off, and got back on the bike. Each time you fell you learned a little something more about how to maneuver yourself, or the bike, to keep from falling again. Each time you “fail” at something, take the time to learn as much as you possibly can about the experience, so you are better prepared for the next time.

2. Let it go. I am certain you are not still “beating yourself up” for that time you fell on your bike when you were 6. So why are you still beating yourself up for that party you bombed in 2006? Once you have learned what you need to from your mistake – LET IT GO. You can not move forward when you are facing the past. Turn around, look to the future, let go of the past.

3. Don’t be afraid to try again. When you were learning to ride your bike, there was some driving factor that kept you getting back on it over and over. Maybe it was to be able to ride to school like a “big kid.” Maybe it was fear of being picked on by your big sister. Maybe it was just to prove to yourself that you could do it. The fear of falling down again paled in comparison to your drive and determination to ride that bike. In our industry you hear “The only way to fail is to quit.” Don’t let your fear from your last failure keep your from achieving your dream.

4. Rationalize the “Worst Case Scenario.” Go ahead and take an honest look at what will happen if you DO fail again. What is the absolute worst case scenario if you do not succeed? Often when you take a real clear look, you see that even the worst case scenario isn’t near as bad as our fear has led us to believe. Getting a clear perspective of “what if” will most often ease your fears.

5. Take baby steps. No one ever said that to learn to swim you must jump into the deep end – no life raft, no life jacket, and having never been in water before!! If you truly feel “frozen” by your fear, take baby steps to get started. “Get your feet wet” standing on the steps for a while until you get relaxed enough to take another step.

6. Keep a positive attitude. We have all failed in the past. Some of us in BIG WAYS. When you look at people who have overcome adversity or even athletes with handicaps – one thing that is consistent with them all is a positive attitude. Remember this phrase – “Whether you think you can, or you think you cant – YOU ARE RIGHT!” Tell yourself you can, tell yourself you WILL, and be proud of yourself for even trying, regardless of the outcome.

7. Surround yourself with positive people. Remember The Law of Attraction – it is the thoughts and things that you surround yourself with that will ultimately impact your success or failure. Surround yourself with positive, successful people who have “been there, done that” and learn how other people have overcome THEIR failures and moved on to succeed.

8. Get support from others. The fear of failure is the #1 most common problem in our industry – followed closely by the fear of success. You are certainly not in the minority with this fear. Talk to others who have dealt with the same issue that you feel you have failed at before. No matter what you feel you have failed at in the past, there are people out there who have gone through the same struggle.

9. Understand that failure is a part of learning. You absolutely can not have success without failures along the way. Even the most successful business owners now write best selling books on how NOT to do business – all based on their own personal mistakes they have made along the way. It is kind of like “every no gets you closer to a yes” – well, every failure gets you closer to a success.

10. Make your fear work for you. One of the best selling books of all time is called “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.” It teaches you how to use your fear to motivate you and inspire you to succeed “anyway.” Emotions are just energy – it is up to you how you use that energy, and what you produce with it.