Stop Staring at Your Obstacles

My regular readers know I do a lot of bike riding, and often use my time on a bike to outline my blogs in my mind.  Summer is here and I’m mountain biking more this year, and this last week I fell into a great canyon with my bike and thought about a subject that seemed perfect for this week.

Road and mountain biking are very different, but some things about riding a bike hold true across both platforms.  One thing I try to point out when helping new riders is the fact that your bike will always go where your head is aimed, steering is not ultimately done with the arms.  Look where you need to with your eyes, but steering a bike is done with your head and shoulders.

Case in point:  One technique I love working on with new mountain riders is while on very narrow bike paths (single tracks) look down the path with your eyes, but if there is a cliff that you must avoid on either side, tilt your head the opposite direction.

Adjusting the angle of your head even subtly while looking down the path with your eyes will help riders avoid pitfalls.  I use this trick on every mountain ride I’m on, if I need to avoid falling off the path to the left side, I pivot my head as if I’m looking at the right side of the path.  I can keep my eyes on the path but my bike will instinctively steer to the right side of the track.

How do we avoid pitfalls that are right in front of us?  It seems counter-intuitive, but if you want to avoid a rock in the path of your bike, stop looking at it.  Looking directly at an obstacle while on your bike locks both your eyes and your head on that obstruction, your bike will follow and more times than not your running over it.

Instead, focus your eyes on the clear path around the obstacle.  Instinctively your bike will find the clear path and your ride will be much more enjoyable.  This is a small trick but it’s so effective for navigating tight mountain rides.

Lastly, riding while looking at what is directly in front of your tire will get you in trouble.  Not knowing what is ten or twenty feet in front of you means that you cannot adjust your speed or gearing correctly.  Ultimately you will hit things that you should have seen coming but you were not looking far enough ahead.

Tying these ideals into a management philosophy seems pretty smart.  Namely:

 

  • Always tilt your head in the direction you want to go. Keep your vision where you need to and don’t lose sight of the important things coming up, but keep your team always moving in the direction you want to go.

 

  • When the next stage has an obstacle, don’t stare at it. Instead, look at your options and focus on the clearest path around it.  The obstacle will remain, but putting all your energy into getting around it is a better use of your teams’ efforts than slamming into it.

 

  • Stop looking at only next week for your work projects. Instead, concentrate on looking as far down the road as you can.  Navigate to the clear paths that will get you where you want to be a year from now.

 

Proper focus, direction and understanding of what steers you on a bike or in life makes both tasks more enjoyable and productive.

It’s Time To Step Away From Your Computer For A While

Being technical people we fill our days with devices, screens, apps, calendars and keyboards.  Guilty of this myself I want to talk about letting go of the technology in our lives, if at least for only a brief period.
Basing your life and work in the technical world is a choice, although it’s an easy argument to say that the choice is fading.  Not having a smart phone or home internet connection has become unthinkable to some, including myself, and it would certainly hamper most individuals ability to get things done in the modern world.  Rather than rail on the current state of technology in our lives, I would advocate for just stepping away from the technical world when possible.
For the last 6 years some friends and I have hosted an event in the Walker River basin, neatly tucked away on the western edge of Nevada.  The idea of the event is to get together with a group of friends, regular or future, eat great food and laugh while competing in a series of events that humble us all.  The events include trap shooting, horseshoes, calf roping, desert golf and darts, all done over the course of one Saturday every May.
We charge for the event, but all the money goes back into the prizes, food and cash winnings.  Because of the logistics of scorekeeping, feeding and paying out winners for 50 or so people, we (the hosts) can not completely leave the technical world completely (spreadsheets abound).  However, all that is expected of the participants is to have fun while meeting some new people and enjoying great food.  Many will win some money or a side prize, but honestly this event is about getting away from our daily lives.  During this event this last May, I could not help but thinking that most of the attendees had usurped cell phones or computers in lieu of smoked meats, desert air and Nevada rain.
These sorts of events re-energizing.  Not worrying about gritty technical details or the corporate bottom line of any mistake I may make allows me to reflect on how important these corporate things actually are when I return to my daily grind.  I realize we have all heard that we have to get away to be more productive, but if any of my readers want to spend a weekend in May experimenting with this philosophy, write me back.  Cell phone optional but leave the charger at home.