Last Friday, Chris and I went on a motorcycle ride with unexpected obstacles. No surprise there.
The 35mi ride to St. George was great, but things went south pretty fast once we reached the city. Construction, traffic, weird lane merges, inpatient people, not great visibility, etc. I may have fearfully yelled twice in Chris’ ear through our helmet communication system. But at least he had fair warning of my building fear through the preceding several minutes of silence.
Riding the motorcycle is literally a matter of life and death. It’s been the hardest obstacle for me. Like, by far. And has probably changed me as much as our years of traveling.
Not long ago when we were incredibly project-focused. We tried to look at the big picture and talk about positive things happening, but sometimes it was too hard to see. We were too busy trying to make sure our pipeline was up to par.
The past month or so I’ve been reflecting on our major year of travel in 2016 versus now. And what could have curved the narrow project-based vision we had.
Let’s face it, work projects are not a matter of life and death.
Our ride improved so much after a long lunch discussion of what the crappiest parts of the ride were. A debrief if you will. A debrief to ensure the rest of the ride would go better and that we would return home alive. Luckily, it did and we had a fabulous time. Our last stop was at an ice cream creamery. Chris led the way into the parking lot and was telling me how we were going to maneuver the tight space to park. He asked, “Can you do this?” I wish he could have seen my facial expression because it was instinctively calling him a dumbass. I quickly replied “I have a rear brake and know how to use it well. Of course I can do this!” Dumbass. If you don’t know us well, then I must disclose: we say those words with much love to simply get a laugh out of the other person.
There are two tools that help me in any riding situation. In addition to the rear brake, the second tool is a recent purchase: boots. They are ridiculously heavy, have a thick sole, and are really tall. I assure you, my ankle does not move. My feet connect with the ground in such a strong way that I can manage the weight of the bike easily. The boots have actually been a major factor in curbing my weakest areas in riding.
When obstacles present themselves in the road, I know that my chances of survival are greater if I use my tools. One is attached to the bike and the other is a piece of safety gear attached to my person. They are completely unrelated, but they work well with who I am as a person in both fun and scary situations.
I think about how challenges with work come up as fast as road obstacles. Maybe a department is shut down, a contract ends prematurely, or maybe you didn’t get the contract signed in the first place. Maybe one of your first drafts of a project missed the mark completely and you’ve let someone down. None of this is a matter of life or death. But if you’re passionate about your work, it does matter and it impacts you deeply.
What are your two greatest work tools? It could be a piece of software, a device, an accessory, or maybe even something about your personality. Pull them out.
As you make changes in your role or career, don’t let your vision become too narrow. Keep growing and using those two tools. Let them work for you and with you in both happy and scary situations. Trust and depend on them so you can look beyond the obstacles and enjoy the journey. Trust they will be there when you need to jump into survival mode. No sense in being so narrow-focused on things you can’t control.
Until next time… safe travels, ride safely, work smart, and enjoy the journey.