What it can teach you about identifying your high-ROI tasks.
Scootin’ around town on a cold, wet night late last week, it happened. The nightmares that woke me in the night, screaming and dripping with sweat… they finally came true.
Feeling sneaky, I ducked up a short hill and turned into a walkway that provides the best type of shortcut a cyclist can find – one that saves you riding up a hill. It was pitch black save for the light on the front of my bike and despite turning it up to full power, it couldn’t save me.
I turned into the laneway and without even a split second to react, my front wheel hit a slippery, metal grate and I went down like an elephant falling off a balance beam. My left knee took the brunt of the fall and almost immediately I had a golf ball sized lump below my kneecap. Thankfully I was wearing my thick winter tights so there was no need for a trip to emergency to have gravel plucked out of my wound with tweezers. But it still hurt like hell.
Post fall, I did what any young rider should. I got right back on the horse (although I’m confident a mixture of adrenaline, embarrassment and having an order of burgers and fries in my backpack helped motivate this decision).
In 2011, I had a similar experience riding a motorbike.
I turned into a right-hand corner and saw the patch of gravel, but it was too late. I had nowhere to go. As soon as my front wheel hit the gravel it went off in its own direction, leaving me to smash my hip and shoulder onto the bitumen with a 150kg bike on top of me.
On that occasion, I also got straight back up. Somehow I picked up my bike (adrenaline, I guess) and limped the 20 minutes home.
The difference between these two incidents is stark.
Not so much the actual fall, but how I dealt with it. You see, since I fell off my motorbike, I haven’t been confident on a bike again. Whenever I’d go riding, I knew the final corner of my ride would be a right-hand turn at a roundabout at the end of my street. I’d dread that corner all the way home, and I’d worry about every right-hand turn in between.
In the end, I gave up riding motorbikes because I’d completely lost my confidence and it wasn’t fun anymore. The crippling anxiety caused by a single fall ruined my love of riding. Every time I went riding, I expected to fall and worse, I expected it to hurt. I didn’t trust myself, my bike or the road. In short, it’s a lethal combination.
On the other hand, since my cycling fall, I’ve been back at work for 3 or 4 shifts now.
I literally went to work the following day, and while my knee was a bit sore and I avoided metal like the plague, I got through it unscathed. I’m acutely aware that I could come off my bike at any time, both through my error or the fault of another road user. Yet, I still barrel down back roads at 70km an hour. I still ride on the road with cars 10x my size. I still use the shortcut with the grate that brought me unstuck.
So how can I have one style of riding in my life where a single fall led to crippling anxiety and another where surging confidence got me straight back on the bike after an accident?
One word… practice.
When I fell off my motorbike, I hadn’t ridden for a few months. I didn’t feel confident throughout the whole ride, I was constantly worried I could crash, and when I did, I met my own expectations.
On my bicycle, however, I ride every week, often 3-4 times. I know my bike, I know the roads and most importantly, I know I am a good rider. When I fell, I knew it would happen eventually, but I also knew I made a mistake and suffered the consequences. So when I got back on the bike, I made a commitment to avoid that mistake in the future.
There’s a lot to learn about business from falling off motorbikes and bicycles.
You see, when you’re overwhelmed with fear, any small setback can be the straw that breaks the camels back. But when your confidence bucket is overflowing, you accept the setbacks, take a lesson from them and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
The simplest way to switch out your anxiety for confidence is to practice. To do that, you have to identify the high-ROI tasks in your business (the tasks that move your business forward). Then you need to complete those tasks every damn day. Just like riding a bike, confidence comes with consistency.
Not sure how to identify your high-roi tasks?
In worksheet 3 of the free Stress-Free Success Toolkit, you’ll work through a short exercise to identify where you should be spending your time and what tasks you should scrap from your to-do list.
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