Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's all about the goal

I had a race today, and I didn’t do very well. In fact, my race was doomed before I started due to poor planning. It turns out, though, that it was a powerful life lesson. Let’s start with the race itself...

It was cold when we started. About 45 degrees and raining. I signed up for the Olympic distance, which would mean spending about 2 1/2 hours in the rain.

The swim was actually pleasant; the water was substantially warmer than the air. The bike ride was more challenging. Several riders in front of me crashed painfully on a set of nearly invisible, unused railroad tracks. Rain coated my visor and made it tough to see. About 7 miles into the 26 mile course I splashed into a puddle that turned out to be a huge pothole. My water bottle ejected but I pressed on.

My ride suddenly got bumpier. Roads do that. Right? I looked down and noted that the pavement seemed pretty smooth. I pulled off to the side and saw that my rear tire was flat.

The flat wasn’t a problem; we keep spare parts on our bikes. The ten minute tire change was a problem though. I had gotten cold and the delay had destroyed my goal of finishing with an average bike speed of 20 MPH. I called it a day and headed in.

After some reflection, I realized that the day was a failure. Not from the tire, the pothole, or quitting early. Even before that. My two goals this race were to hang with some of my training partners, and the aforementioned 20+ speed. Both of those goals were intolerant of incidents such as a flat. A better approach would have been if I planned to set a personal record for an Olympic where I change a flat. Or, perhaps, a 20MPH bike leg omitting the mile where I changed the flat. In other words, in preparing for the race, it isn’t enough to put a flat kit on the bike. The flat kit needs to be partnered with a compelling, flat-tolerant goal in order to be truly useful.

This doesn’t just apply to cycling or racing. Having fault-tolerant, properly aligned goals is important in our business and personal lives too. How many businesses have we seen fail because they focus narrowly on profitability rather than their entire community? A small change in goal may have made all the difference for them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Emotional Reasoning

As I drove home for lunch today, I remembered that I need to vote on Proposal 1. This immediately made me swear under my breath; then I had an “Aha!” moment.