Why Bends Straighten Us

3 thoughts from my bicycle diaries

The air whistles past my ears as my heart pounds in my chest. My lungs gasp for oxygen. The muscles burn as lactic acid builds up.

Why Bends Straighten Us

One of my major life goals is keeping my body fit and healthy. Over the years, I have tried running, aerobics and basketball with limited results. It was frustrating. But then I  discovered the joy of open-road cycling. It gave me a new freedom.

No inhibition will come between my goal and I. My bike ride gives me time to do more than exercise. It is an opportunity to think free of any electronic distractions. I am off social media or my work. The most treasured of them all is the reflection and meditation.

But it was not all natural to me. My scariest moments have not been the steep climbs. It is in the hazardous bends and turns along the roads. I have to contend with loose gravel and a few nasty drivers who try to run me off the road.

Before, I would look forward to the straight stretches and downhills. I thought this is where I needed the most concentration as I tore along at 45 kilometers per hour!

The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.” ~Aesop

Get to conquer fear

The sum of your perceived truths holds back your potential. Setting of on my first road-cycling adventure wasn’t easy. My intense fear of careless motorists that I encounter when driving left me frozen. I think most of the fatigue from that first right was from how tense I was!

This was ruining my ride! To conquer this fear, I practiced taking corners and bends at low speeds. I took time to understand the physical dynamics. My focus shifted to how the bicycle responded under me.

I embraced the fears. It wasn’t by expecting the worst, but by channeling effort towards smoother transitions.

Communicate with intent

Yet I get to horn my communication skills while on the bicycle saddle. One day I approached a sharp bend. Instinctively, I flicked a few quick glances back at the vehicle following me. The momentum I was to sweet to lose. Something wonderful happened. The driver slowed down and allowed me to take the bend.

I tried this maneuver a couple more times with different drivers. It worked. When I made my intentions clear, other road users extended courtesy and respect to me. This lesson extends to life and leadership too. You have to be aware and ready to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words. Always keep your communication channels well tuned.

Leaning into the bend

Sometimes, I allow worry to take over my life. It keeps me awake, as it did last night. I have been working on a course for months. Many challenges have reared their ugly head. From technical issues with computer servers to malfunctioning software. It is frustrating.

The bends have demonstrated to me of how important leaning into the bend is. If I fight the angle of approach, I may have a nasty fall. I need to work with the bend. I lose sleep over things I can’t control. This affect my productivity for at least a couple of days. It is valuable time lost.

It is time to either work with the bend or to outsource tasks that I don’t have full competence in.

Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” ~Victor Hugo

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Certified Professional Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.