I ride mountain bikes, and have been for years, but recent circumstances have kept me off of my bike for quite some time. Last week I chose to break out my bike, fill up the tires, and go for a ride. I chose a route that I knew very well. It’s a short 12-mile loop with a big demanding hill at the end.
As I started my ride everything went as planned except I realized quickly that I was not in the shape I had been in the past. I was very familiar with this route because I had done the ride a hundred times or so. I knew the “Big Hill” that was waiting for me at the end, when I would be the most tired. As I continued on I really wasn’t sure I was feeling strong enough to do the “Big Hill.” I continued to think about the “Big Hill” constantly as I rode on. I realized that I was worrying about the “Big Hill” so much that I was adjusting the way I was riding and this was making me more tired. I was conserving energy by going slower then faster, (wrong technique) and was not feeling good at al. My entire focus was on the “Big Hill,” so much so that at this rate I may not even make it to the “Big Hill.”
I stopped to take a break. I was exhausted thinking that I was really out of shape when it dawned on me that worrying about the hill was consuming all of my energy. I was too concerned about how I thought I would feel if I didn’t conserve enough energy instead of just riding the best I could and dealing with the hill when I got there. The hill that I may not even ride up was dictating how I was riding now and adding an element of stress that made no sense at all.
I realized that there was a mental battle going on in my mind and it was sapping my strength. I have read many articles which have pointed out that dealing with stress can use up to seventy percent of our physical energy. I was feeling this firsthand now and the “Big Hill” was consuming my strength. I needed to make a decision right then to either ride the hill or not ride the hill or my entire ride would be pointless. I would be returning home feeling defeated rather than uplifted and strong.
So I decided I was going to ride the hill no matter how painful it was. I got back on my bike. Now my goal was only to get to the hill and to the top of it as quickly as possible. I felt a surge of energy like the days of old and was pedaling as fast as I could to the base of the hill. The very thing I was afraid of before was now what was motivating and energizing me.
I faced the hill and dealt with it and it lost its power over me. Not only did I get to the top of the hill but I learned a lesson that I was able to apply to my business and my life in general. I had faced the hill—the thing that I was most afraid of at that time—and I had dealt with it, so it lost its power over me. Whether or not I decided to ride up the hill was not the issue. I needed to make a decision early on to face it so I could free my mind up and concentrate on the task at hand, which after all, was just riding the bicycle. The stress was not only mentally exhausting it was also draining me physically. After I made it up the hill and went home feeling stronger, inspired, and satisfied like I had really accomplished something that day.
We worry about many things that we will never change in the collision industry—that is, the “Big Hill” is not going to go away. But how we deal with our “Big Hills” is what will make the difference. Recognizing that the decision itself was the key, not whether or not I actually rode up the “Big Hill.”
I reminded myself that I needed to free my mind so I could concentrate on what was before me. I needed to eliminate the stress that was controlling my present to be able to keep moving so my strength could return. I needed to make the decision about what I was going to do with the “Big Hill,” beforehand—a simple decision—either ride up it or not.
Once I decided to ride the hill, it was easier to focus on getting to the top when I actually arrived at the bottom. The stress of thinking about the hill took more physical strength than actually riding the hill did.
In business we have many “Big Hills.” Some we will choose to ride up, others we will choose to go around, but it’s better make the decision to ride or not as soon as you can so you don’t waste energy thinking about what may happen or what could be. Learn to enjoy the ride, and those “Big Hills” will take care of themselves.