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Work-Life Success & the Mountain Biking Metaphor

There was a time, many moons ago, where I was able to go out mountain biking for 3 – 4 hour arduous rides, at least three times a week. These days my rides are a little gentler, but I still get so much out of them.

There was a time, many moons ago, where I was able to go out mountain biking for 3 – 4 hour arduous rides, at least three times a week.

These days my rides are a little gentler, but I still get so much out of them. This weekend, I pondered the many parallels I could see between off-road biking and living work-life ‘to the full’.

1. Know where you are going:
Needless to say, when you’re in a huge woodland area one track can look very much like another, if you don’t know how you’re going to ‘get out’ you’ll be lost for quite a long while. So – have a vision. Where’s your life taking you?

2. Keep one eye on the horizon, another on what’s right in front of you: Now obviously what you’re doing is glancing up every now and then to anticipate the hill so you know when to change gears, or to check there’s no obstacle such as a fallen tree trunk on the path… but you also have to look right ahead of you, to navigate the tree roots, the dips and the turns. As it is with life – it’s important to have a vision, and to keep your eye on it – but being able to respond appropriately to what’s happening right now is just as critical.

3. Go with the flow, and maintain momentum: As my biking buddy once said, ‘brakes are over-rated’. Mountain biking is easier when you lean into the corners, use the speed from the downhills and avoid ‘panic braking’ – you can fall off the bike! Go with the flow – trust your instincts, make sure that ‘planning’ doesn’t paralyse your progress, and when you’re ‘on a roll’, keep going with it – if it feels effortless and easy, you’re probably on the right track!

4. Focus and be present: As I learned the hard way, whilst riding along pondering these metaphors, if you lose focus you can crash! Focus is the ability to invest all your attention and resources into one activity at a time. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing else happening at the same time. On the contrary, our sub-conscious is processing information and cultivating the right conditions for us to generate results, even if we’re not consciously focusing on them at the time. But when we consciously focus on what we’re doing (called mindfulness in some spiritual traditions) we ensure that we are offering ourselves fully to the task at hand – which usually means quicker and better results.

5. Smile and have fun!: Love life! It truly is a gift, and although it is a cliche, life really is too short not to make the most of every day. What makes you smile? Do you enjoy your work, or is work a ‘drag’? If it is, look at what changes you might need to inject some meaning, joy and purpose to ‘bring it to life’.

Finally… is there an activity or sport that you’re passionate about? Look at why you’re passionate about it, and see if you can find your own ‘life metaphors’ to help you live more fully.

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