Never stop moving –There were times when we were in the remotest areas of Costa Rica, not a soul in sight - and then we would come to a fork in the road. We picked a path and rode it for as long as we needed to in order to get enough information to keep moving in that direction or change course. Most of the time, as in business, our first instincts were right, but even if we were not right the first time we gained valuable information and made adjustments.
Think of everything that could go wrong and prepare with Plan A, B, and C – Even though we had two of everything, creativity played a big role in staying positive and keeping the machine of team CoreCo/dwinQ running. From one of the CEOs borrowing a pair of shoes two sizes too big, to broken bike parts fixed in the field and carrying an extra water bottle, each CEO at one point had to adopt strategies to be ready when Murphy's Law decided to fight the team. When one of the guys lost his brakes on a treacherous downhill he improvised and stayed safe. Creativity kept him positive, and performing when crashing and burning seemed imminent.
Know when to be aggressive and when to be patient – Day one started out with a very, very (did I mention very?) steep 12,000 foot climb. Many people cooked their legs after just 3,000 feet. On day three, many people started out too slow and when we came to the first railroad bridge, they had to wait 20 to 25 minute standing impatiently in a queue before they could cross, one foot at a time balancing their bike on their shoulders. Being more aggressive would have saved 20 minutes. Looking out at the bigger picture and deciding what action it calls for now is crucial to long-term success.
Exercise your courage and it becomes stronger – Everyone has courage equal to the greatest explorers, but 99% of the population never taps into it. It's easy to find a reason not to face something you are scared of – like snakes or flying or crashing your bike on a downhill. Translated to the business world, maybe this means you don't want to leave a steady job or try a new way of doing things when one particular method has worked well for years. Acting courageous perpetuates courageous behavior and provides great rewards. This axiom should stay clearly in the cross hairs of your behavioral scope so that you can be different from the 99% of other people who never take a risk and exercise that courage.
Sometimes for the team to finish first you have to finish last – Team CoreCo/dwinQ actually consisted of five CEO entrepreneur sponsors (myself and four colleagues) and a total of 19 riders, many of them up and coming Costa Rican kids who could not afford to do the race without our help. Our goal was to get everyone to the finish line as fast – and as safely – as possible. We had a couple of injuries, and one technical disqualification, but otherwise going into day three we were on track to get everyone to the other side of Costa Rica. Suddenly one of the younger women began to struggle on the last day. One of the fastest CEOs (who was having a personally strong race) chose to ride the last day at his slowest pace to stay with this woman. He finished fourth to last that day, but as he came in with the woman, he realized he had created a big positive for Costa Rican cycling and mountain biking. He relentlessly put the team ahead himself and all of us benefitted from it.
Now, as I'm sitting on the plane flying home, happy to be away from the bike for a week or two, I look around the cabin and believe that everyone should pick their own La Ruta each year. Sitting on the beach or watching "Dancing with the Stars" might be relaxing, perhaps pleasurable, but it does nothing for long term happiness or personal growth. Picking your own challenging La Ruta, be it physical or mental, that requires courage, discipline, creativity and planning or training will make you a better person, better parent and better leader no matter what your position.
PS – Feel free to share the toughest thing you've ever done in the Comments section and how it made you better as person or a leader
Patrick Sweeney is President and CEO of dwinQ, a social media marketing company.
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