Business Lessons from Crashing
The other day I clipped into the pedals on my road bike and I rode 25k to clear my head and get some fresh air. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But half way through the ride I thought I'd get smart and take a shortcut through a park. Long story short - I did not make it over the curb. I did a complete flip and landed on my hip and back with the bike on top of me. Did I mention I hate clip pedals?! I saw stars, and it hurt like crazy. I managed to break my watch, screw up the bike and tattoo a forearm with what is now scabby road rash. So I limped home with a bruised body. My hip still feels like I got kicked by a mad bull these many days later. Maybe I should take up swimming.
Later that day I got a call from my buddy Chad. He asked if I wanted to go for a mountain bike ride. Like a true glutton for punishment I said sure. We hit some beautiful new trails I hadn't ridden before. And since caution is the better part of valour I was very careful to not do something stupid... until the last 100 yards of the ride. I was coming a bit too fast around a steep switchback and the next thing I knew I was on my back with a dust cloud floating in the air, no breath left in my lungs and a series of new crimson scrapes all along my shoulders. Maybe I should take up knitting.
Arriving home battered and bruised I thought "what can I learn from this experience?" I did think of a few things. One thing for sure is Think first - in my case, learn to ride a bike properly and ease into things gradually until I get 'back in the saddle' sort of speak. And the second thought relates not only to life in general but very appropriately to business too.
If we do not get on the bike we cannot crash.
If we don't crash we won't fail. Or as my 6-year old son says "that was an epic fail dad!"
That sounds like a good plan, right? No ride. No crash. No fail. Remember the old saying, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." There is a wealth of truth there. Most people will always be 9-5 people, satisfied with others making all their decisions for them. There is a lot of blind trust there, but suffice it to say, you do not have much of a handle on controlling your own destiny if you just 'go along'. I once heard it said "If you have a mind - make it up." In other words, decide to decide. If you are in a rut, decide to climb out. Not many people are there to pull you out. Plan to succeed. It requires forethought, planning and perseverance. And if things are not working out - make some changes. I have learned that many small changes over the course of time cumulatively add up to big positive change. So GET BACK ON YOUR BIKE, go for a ride, don't make the same mistakes (you'll make new ones) - and pick a destination. Then point your bike that direction and pedal.
If you crash, get up, dust yourself off and try again. If you don't try, you can't fail - but you can't succeed or do great things either.
The Key to Crashing and Getting Back Up
The important thing is to learn from our mistakes. In my business I have made many. I've let too many things go. But now I'm finding that the more I create systems (and then lock them down) in my everyday work (from creating and using contracts, to clearly communicating deliverables and deadlines), the more smoothly things go, and the more profitable the company becomes.
When your house and business is in order, you'll have more time to get on your bike (or whatever else you like to do for pure enjoyment) and ride. And this time I'm slowing down before I hit that switchback - and yes just because a particular route seems like a 'shortcut' that's not always the case. So take a moment to think things through - then ride.