The Jebel Akhdar or Al Jabal Al Akhdar, is part of Al Hajar Mountains range in Ad Dakhiliyah Governorate of Oman. It rises to a height of 2,980 m
I am part way through an endurance cycling challenge in Oman. It’s day 4 and I am still trying to process what happened yesterday!
This is the first time I’ve done something like this and it is my Misogi* for the year. As inspired by Jesse Itzler I decided to follow suit and choose one big challenging thing this year that I wouldn’t otherwise have done. To push mental, physical and spiritual boundaries on a bike 🚴 in the pursuit of growth.
* Misogi is a Japanese term that refers to a unique and challenging practice of purification. In traditional Japanese culture, misogi involves standing beneath a waterfall to purify body and mind.
As we power through the week I can’t help but see some lessons that apply so aptly to business.
Small micro adjustments and fine tuning make all the difference.
Whilst seemingly insignificant they allow you to go faster. Starting out on the ride, my seat wasn’t feeling right. After rebuilding the bike in Oman it must have shifted and it was playing on my mind. I didn’t want to stop as this would slow down the team. At the next check point I took the opportunity to readjust it and away we went. For me it was eye opening, a few millimetres made all the difference, the lactic acid drained away and instantly I got power. In business it can seem counter intuitive to slow down to readjust, but it’s the very thing you must do if you know somethings off, these micro improvements and fine tuning to get it right make all the difference.
The best route is the one that gets you to the goal directly.
We got our first flat tire on day 2 of the ride, what’s interesting is, it happened after purposefully trying to avoid this outcome and cycling further out of our way to do so. After reaching the end of the road quite literally it turned into a gravel path. Although the gravel path took us to directly to where we wanted to go we decide turn tail and cycle a detour on the smooth road to avoid puncturing any tires. What happened? We got a flat on the smooth highway. Even after trying to avoid the result it happened anyway. Sometimes the best road is the one that goes quicker to your destination, even if logic and rational thinking tell you otherwise. Even if it looks bumpy and like it might cause problems. In business this is applied as being creative, staying curious, entrepreneurial and in full exploration mode. Sometimes when you’re trying to do everything perfectly you miss the acceleration and innovation that comes from executing with urgency.
When the sun is beating down and you’re exposed to the elements, the gusts of wind, the cars, holes in the road surface, rocks, gravel patches, focus on keeping in a close knit formation and riding together to create maximum momentum.
In cycling terms its called Peleton — What is a Peloton? “The peloton (from French, meaning little ball or platoon) is the main group or pack of riders in a road bicycle race. Riders in a group save energy by riding near (particularly behind) other riders. The reduction in drag is dramatic; in the middle of a well-developed group it can be as much as 40%”.
It can be the same in business when a client pulls a deal, a product launch gets delayed or someone leaves. Stick together and you’ll go faster. The team gets a stronger bond as a result, and the tighter unit formation protects you and pulls you through it. 🚴🚴🚴🚴
Take the helping hand and mentorship when offered.
At about the 100km mark I was asked if I wanted an energy gel. My recommendation is to take it when you’re offered, no ego’s here. Sometimes mentors who’ve been there before know things you don’t, they can see elements you can’t. By accepting advice with grace it saves you the disappointment of failing and allows you to stay in the game. Have humility and know when you’re being guided to the right option, have confidence and share this knowledge with someone else in the future. In business we can get stuck trying to do it alone, there’s a sort of unconscious reward for doing everything yourself, that is until you realise you could have gone further as a team or by taking the wisdom of a mentor and applying it when it was given.
Leave it all on the road
Whether in business or cycling up a 2000 ft mountain, you’ve got to be all in or else you mind will start playing tricks on you and giving you ways to back out.
In business this comes in the form of those extra emails, calls and waking up earlier to get a jump on the day or ensuring you work out so your body and mind are primed for success.
It’s easy to adopt the attitude of those around you, especially if there’s a history of complaining or culture of blame. But rather than get sucked in to this downward spiral, instead stay resolutely focused on creating the culture of positivity, looking for the good in the situation and remaining up beat. Small changes in mindset like this can create a wave of momentum thats contagious, even if it’s not verbally recognised people will have noticed and make their own adjustments accordingly. You can influence the culture one moment at a time.
Make the decision to play full out, to go all in and not conform to what’s going on around you — this way you ensure success for yourself and your team. Don’t lower your standard or make concessions, be willing to stand tall and become a beacon of light.
Just go for it!
In reality, life is defined by what you decide to go for and what you don’t. You’ll learn more by the just going for it and testing than waiting around, and the risk is you never execute.
If you have the luxury of time, then yes, by all means prepare, train and get a routine to build up to the challenge. However, if you don’t, why not go for it anyway. All the biggest opportunities have come to me after I made the decision to go for it. Some I had trained for, some I just went all in and decided to have a go.
The worse case is you fail, you learn, and you come back another day. The best is you are victorious, either way you have a story to tell and a life full of amazing memories.
Every day we have a choice, we can either be timid or a risk taker, we can either comfort to societies norms based on age, life stage or group. We can get a pass on not working out so much because we are a dad, or have a lot of business travel coming up, it’s ok to relax, to watch Neflix, to take the road most travelled. That is, until you say, not today sunshine, I am going to push the needle, I want my life and time on this earth to stand for something, to create life memories and experiences that matter.
Choose today to go for it!