How to keep pedaling toward success

It's time to stop merely "keeping up"

It's no secret to those who know me that I am a cycling fan. I like to ride bikes, I like to talk about bikes, and I like to watch people race bikes. 

When I discovered bike racing in high school while turning the dial—yes, it was a dial—on the TV in my parent's basement, it was like nothing I'd seen before. I was in awe of the physical feat of racing such long distances, sometimes over dramatic terrain, for days in a row. I had no idea then about the drama and strategy involved in bike racing. But even without that, I observed and understood what it meant for a rider to be "off the back" of the peloton, or main group of riders. 

A rider that is "off the back" has been dropped from that main bunch. Said another way, that rider has not been able to keep up with the group. Whether because of the environment (terrain or weather), the pace of the race or the rider's individual condition on that day, that rider falls out of the flow of the race. It's easy to picture this, even if you've never seen a bike race. 

This image is one that I am often reminded of when professionals, leaders and business owners express to me their deep exhaustion associated with the effort to just "keep up with life." When I hear that, I just can't help but think of people getting dropped "off the back" of their own pursuit of success and fulfillment.

I imagine them struggling like a cyclist does to keep moving forward:  

  • Attempting to continue cranking along, mostly slowly and labored, but with occasional (and futile) surges of effort
  • Body slouching and moving with discomfort or unnaturally writhing from pain
  • Faces contorted or altogether blank of expression, as if resigned to whatever fate may befall them. 

And like with a cyclist, I can bet that all of this pushing ― even if done with the best intention and the deepest drive to succeed ― will become increasingly inefficient and ineffective. 

Getting to that point in the pursuit of success might cause even the most driven professional to disengage, burn out, disconnect from what is really important to them, fall out of the rhythm of life or worse, become physically, mentally or emotionally sick. 

This isn’t a sustainable approach to success for anyone. Even in the short-term, this "hanging on" approach erodes achievement, happiness and even the desire to continue trying.

Being "off the back" does, however, provide an opportunity to assess what's happening during those times when the striving isn't enough to keep us going toward the next finish line. It's a chance to assess external circumstances, inner alignment to the task at hand, how well-prepared we are for our endeavor and the conditions in which we're working and whether we're caring for ourselves in a way that sets us up to withstand the challenges. 

Stop merely "keeping up" and "hanging on." Look for where you can nourish and call upon your power and confidence. Lead your pursuit of success with energy. Take on all manner of terrain and work through variable conditions with the clarity of your purpose. Be resilient in the face of demanding situations. Reach each milestone not just with the race group, but ahead! 


Categories: Human Resources, Web Exclusives