May 28, 2014

Mountain Biking Leadership

Join me in welcoming Scott McBride as our new Corporate Coach at Coachwell. Today he shares on the blog how some leadership lessons are best learned on bike. Subscribe to the Coachwell blog for a new coaching insight each week.

This weekend I had the opportunity to go mountain biking. We went up to Phil’s Trail, an 11-mile loop in Bend Oregon with a good 1,000-foot elevation change. Phil’s is a very popular place where riders boast of their crashes and post bloody pictures of themselves after “surviving” a ride. You should know I am not a mountain biker, hardly an adequate cyclist and getting on Phil’s Trail for my first time is probably not the wisest choice.

I met Coach Greg at the trailhead. He started talking me through mountain biking basics: “The most important thing to concentrate on is staying in the center of the trail. Pick your line on the trail and keep your bike on it.” He also said: “This trail, specifically the downhill section was laid out like a ski run, with sweeping turns to make the most of the topography. Pretend you’re skiing, and remember to pick a good line and stay on it, so you won’t crash.”   

Easier said than done, as I wobbled and weaved my way back and forth down the trail. They’re lots of obstacles in mountain biking. I had to get around rocks and in-between narrow trees all the while going downhill. My natural inclination was to turn around and meet Greg back at the parking lot, but with Coach Greg’s encouragement I kept going. After some practice and only dumping myself face forward in soft pine needles and dirt once, I really started to get the hang of it. If I kept my line, I had a sense of control, could increase my speed and actually enjoy the ride. 
Picking lines and staying in the center of the trail is very important. Picking a good line not only determines if you get down the trail but how much energy you expend. Mountain biking with the right tactics is actually fun and not too hazardous.
I know there are places in my life and leadership where I need to intentionally pick a line. Then I can get through the obstacles and maintain momentum. It’s when I hesitate or wobble down the trail of life that I can take a crash. 
What Coach Greg helped me realize is how I need to approach my life and leadership with the same intentionality as I did riding the trails that day. As a leader, I can’t just show up and hope good things will happen. I need to intentionally pick a line and get going. 
My encouragement to you this week is to start by designing your week. “Pick a line” for what you want to achieve, and get going. Then, stick to that pathway. Start your week more by design than by happenstance. You will be pleased with the results and probably won’t need stitches along the way. And whatever else happens, stay on your bike and keep pedaling, you never know where you might end up! 
To your excellence in “picking a line” this week,
Scott McBride