One of my favorite fitness activities is mountain biking. The view of the landscape, the warmth of the blue sky and the thrill of the downhill spark my interest in and love for the sport.
Last weekend, I met a group of girlfriends for a morning ride and selected a particularly challenging trail for us to climb. One of my friends is fairly new to the sport; but since she’s a great athlete, I assumed the course would be doable and rewarding. However, after starting our ascent, I remembered how difficult the terrain actually was!
About halfway up the climb, my new-to-riding friend threatened to turn around and go home. “Enough is enough. This it too hard for me!” she exclaimed. We wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, though, and talked her into sticking it out, promising we’d happily stop and wait when needed. (After all, I was huffing and puffing and enjoyed the break to catch my breath).
She had to walked her bike up a lot of the climb, and even fell a time or two on the descent, but she didn’t give up. That, to me, made her effort even more impressive. Those scratches, after all, are badges of honor!
During those moments when we stopped to wait for her, I reflected on that summer in Boston 13 years ago when I learned how to mountain bike. I spent the entire summer covered in bruises and scars, having mastered the skill of the over-the-handlebar fall, jagged rocks quickly becoming my best friend. I had no fear at the time and didn’t mind my not-so-sexy summer dress style.
Like mountain biking, playing tennis, learning a new job or figuring out how to parent, life often has a learning curve. We have to fall a few times before getting it right. Those crashes and scars teach us a lot about how to stay balanced and upright. Even after gaining proficiency, there are no guarantees for an accident-free life.
Yet despite this logic, we still expect perfection of ourselves. We dread flops, falls and setbacks, often viewing ourselves as failures when they do happen. In fact, we usually avoid failure like the plague, rather than embracing it as an opportunity to learn – to become more proficient at life and shape us into better people.
The next time you crash and burn? Just keep pedaling, or even hop off that bike and walk a while. It will make you stronger in the long-run, while offering an adventurous and enjoyable ride along the way.
Photo courtesy of new and unique videos.