“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” is one of my favorite quotes. At times, the sea of your life will be calm and peaceful, a time when everything in your life is going well and all things seem to fall into place. These are the times when life feels grand. These periods of ease are a good thing, and are meant to be enjoyed.
The flip side of this is that the sea of your life can also be rough and difficult at times. Storms roll in, lightning crashes around you, and wild waves and obstacles are placed in your path.
If this is your first time in rough seas, you will likely be forced to overcome these obstacles and challenges in the moment. Whether you succeed or fail will depend upon the actions and decisions you make in the moment. If, however, you have navigated rough seas before, you will have the experience and skills necessary to stay calm and overcome the obstacles before you. And you will have a higher probability of success simply because you have more experience.
A good example of this in our sport could simply be getting a flat tire on a ride or during an event. If you have never dealt with a flat tire before during an event or ride, and you experience one during your first event, you will likely feel some panic. This unknown obstacle could take you 10 minutes to fix, or even worse is that you may not even be able to fix it and not finish.
If you have experience with flats, whether in previous events or just practicing the art of fixing them at home, you can whittle that 10-minute flat fix to 90 seconds or less! And because you have some experience and know how in fixing flats, you will remain calm, confident and focused in handling the situation before you. And because you have confidence in your skills, you will have more success in finishing your event.
So what I suggest to you is that you practice moving out into rough seas from time to time. Practice exploring the unknown. Test your boundaries and challenge yourself. I’m not asking you to put yourself in danger, but I am asking you to be ok with exploring the unknown, learning new skills and expanding your limits.
So how do we improve our skills by pushing our boundaries, and in what ways can we push our boundaries? Well, pushing our boundaries could be physical and mental. And expanding our boundaries could include practicing a new skill like a bunny hop or a wheelie, or it could be pushing your physical limits by completely blowing up during an interval and having to limp home. Another boundary could be trying something new like the superfood kale, or a mental meditation. In any of these examples, you will learn and you will grow, and that is the point!
To achieve growth, we all need to push the limits of our comfort zone. We need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. And it’s important to keep in mind that unjustified fears can constrain exploration and positive development.
I always say: Train your weaknesses and race your strengths. So when the rough seas present themselves, you know you are ready and capable of handling anything.
PS. Practice fixing flats 😉