During the last year or so I’ve been reading a lot on the topic of Fear and Failure, the main subjects for Epicfailmail – Moving out and stretching the limits of your comfort zone, becoming accustomed to new experiences, getting through The Dip, moving onwards and upwards and quieting the voices and critics that say you can’t. Here’s a story that I hope you’ll enjoy:
Friday morning got started at its normal pace. Get up, get coffee, read some blog posts and get ready for work. It was the beginning to another great day.
As many of y’all know, I ride my bike to work most days. During the several months that I have done so, I’ve been quite fortunate to have such a loving girlfriend to take me to work on certain occasions for any number of reasons: I’m tired, running a bit late, just because, weather, etc.
Well, this Friday morning was about to provide me with a new experience, one that I didn’t see coming.
After getting out of the shower, I heard the slow rolling grumble of thunder, which usually means one thing: rain. In the months that I’ve been cycling to work I’ve never had to worry about the weather too much. It has always presented itself in advance and made an early announcement that it was on the way. This morning the rain just sneaked up on me and there was no time to make any arrangements, at least not the kind that would allow me to arrive warm and dry. There was no avoiding it, and I made some arrangements. I texted my boss to let him know I would be arriving a few minutes late. I packed a towel in my bag, took an extra pair of shoes, made sure my bag was sealed tight (it’s water proof) and prepared for the wet, 5.5 mile journey.
I’m already used to packing a change of clothes for work, and simply took a few extra steps in preparation to compensate for the rain. All of this I just took in stride as I made my way to the door. It wasn’t until the first drops hit my face and the morning chill ran down my back that I had a sudden realization: I’ve never GONE to work in the rain (on my bike).
I realized in a flash that I was about to gain a new experience. It wasn’t one that I was necessarily looking forward to (I love the sunny weather!) or planned for, it just sort of happened. I mean, it’s not like I was going to a concert to see my favorite new band for the first time or getting on a plane to go on vacation, it was simply a new experience and the excitement was showing. I say excitement, it was more like a shrug and short inward quip, “Well, this will just have to do, time to get going”. A few quick mental checks and I locked the door. I was on my way.
The real excitement came later. It’s a cycle (no pun intended). New experiences bring new experiences and I was eager to see how I would respond to this one. And, to top it off I hadn’t WORRIED about it one bit. I actually have a blog post drafted “Worrying – and how to stop” which I should have posted before this one to create some more context, but I wanted to share this one first. So be it.
The rain was pouring, my legs pumping and the last few goose bumps calming down, I was now in my normal stride. As I ran my familiar route my mind settled in after the first few twists and turns and I was on the straightaway. I began to think and let my mind loose and the lasting thought for the ride was, “I hadn’t worried about the rain one bit” and, “What a great new experience”.
So, what’s changed? All I can answer with is the following:
During these months of riding and training for my big adventure is that I’m sure there are going to be far greater challenges that I will have to face. Certainly there will be weather issues as well as many others. There is nothing I can do about it except to be prepared.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Anticipate, but don’t overthink. Leave yourself ready for bigger and better actions. Don’t preemptively drain yourself before the race.
In the end I got to work safe and sound, dried myself off and changed my clothes, then hit the sales floor ready to go.
Truth be told, I didn’t have a very productive day at work and it wasn’t all that great. I felt bad because I feel as though I robbed my coworkers of my usual upbeat attitude and outgoing performance. About an hour into the shift I was drained. I had very little energy (athletes call this ‘the bonk’). Lesson learned, and next time I’ll already know what’s best for me and the team and I’ll know this through Experience.
Upon arriving home I had a good feeling about my new experience. I learned something new and felt mostly proud. Put me down for a few extra points in the Preparation and Perspective category. Subtract one or two in Performance…that is, until next week when I come back and crush it.
Have you had any new experiences lately? Is there anything that you have done to prepare yourself for them? What was the outcome? If so, please feel free to share them. Put down any comments you want to explore and lets get some positive feedback flowing. Cheers!