My parents have been unbelievably influential in my life, but I often take their influence for granted. More and more, I find myself repeating their aphorisms and maxims as reminders to myself in times of stress and hardship.
My subconscious seems to be deeply rooted in these aphorisms used by my parents. Whenever I’m frustrated or upset I’ll hear one of my parents’ advice echoing in between my ears, without any deliberate attempt of my own to recall it. Most often, these phrases are linked with memories of an activity or an event in which I heard them.
Mountain biking with my Dad is an activity that has reinforced many of these aphorisms within my mind.
I’ve learned countless things from my Dad, but a lesson that has stuck with me stems from his reminder that “anything is better than walking.”
The Daunting Upslope
I was easily frustrated when mountain biking. It was irritating to put in so much effort to move a mere fraction of the way up the hill, and it was disheartening to fall, only to fall again shortly thereafter. I often wanted to quit, especially when faced with a steep incline.
When making my way (slowly) up a hill, it seemed like a failure to downshift. The idea was certainly attached to my ego. If I downshifted, that meant I wasn’t strong enough and I needed help.
I didn’t view downshifting as an effective use of the tools at my disposal, but as more of an admission of weakness.
At this point, my Dad would toss out a metaphorical shot in the arm and tell me to downshift. “Anything’s better than walking,” was a frequent reminder that it really didn’t matter what gear I was in as long as I was moving.
I could be in the lowest possible gear, but as long as I was turning the cranks, I was still moving up the hill.
This didn’t necessarily make the climb any easier, but it did provide motivation and a framework for focusing on the process rather than the outcome. All I had to do was make sure that I was moving the pedals, and I would eventually make my way to the top of the slope.
Looking back, I think that I’ve learned two lessons from repeatedly hearing this advice:
- We all need someone to push us and motivate us.
- The memory of someone pushing us can be just as helpful
- We can always be doing something to move us further along in our pursuit
- Focus on keeping the process moving rather than achieving the outcome
Think of one obstacle that you’re struggling with right now. What’s the thing that you could be doing that takes the least amount of effort but still moves you forward?
What’s your lowest gear? Don’t let the fear of imperfection halt you in your tracks.
As long as you’re on the bike and the cranks are moving, anything’s better than walking.