4 Ways to Throttle Through Obstacles
“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” ~ Orison Swett Marden
Symone was a spunky, 20-something, petite young woman with a beautiful face and long, magenta dreadlock-like braids in her hair. Her dark rimmed glasses made her look like she got a perfect score on the SAT. She was smart, driven, energetic, and proud of her Harley Sportster 883 that she just learned how to ride the summer before.
We were riding through the back roads of Pennsylvania and getting lost in the tree-lined landscape when Symone found herself under attack by a kamikaze groundhog. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the little fur ball attempt to execute a suicide mission by throwing himself in front of Symone’s tire.
Now… I consider myself an accomplished rider, fully equipped to handle a four-legged, six-pound critter with my 800+ pound Street Glide but this little guy scared the crap out of me! As the scene before me unfolded, I was evaluating how I would react if I was in Symone's situation.
I watched as Symone squared off against her nemesis. She gripped her handlebars tight, fixed her gaze on the horizon, planted her feet on the pegs, and held her line, determined to keep her bike shiny side up.
Thump. Thump. Mr. Groundhog was now road kill.
Symone – 1. Groundhog – 0.
The Road Kill of Life
As a motorcyclist, it’s a scary thing to stare down something so cute but has the potential to really mess up your ride (if you know what I mean).
But this isn’t only scary when you’re barreling down the highway at 65 MPH… it’s also scary when you’re going MACH 10 with your hair on fire trying to build a business or climb the corporate ladder, be the best mom in the world, take care of a household (and maybe a husband), keep your girlish figure in check, maintain your circle of BFFs, and generally be happy and fulfilled.
Throw in the potential of thumping over road kill to slow down your ride called life, and it’ll make the most seasoned rider tense up!
So how do we throttle through obstacles that pop up in our path?
1. Grip your handlebars
Let’s face it… just like road kill is a part of the ride, obstacles are a part of life. Where you might not have control over the obstacles that present themselves in your path, you DO have control over how you respond to them.
You can choose to panic, jump to conclusions, and let them derail you and all the hard work you’ve put in to get yourself here. Or you can choose to be aware of what’s happening, keep your emotions in check, tighten your grip, and be resolute in your ability to get through this setback. Life is an exhilarating ride when you’re brave enough to hang on!
2. Fix your gaze on the horizon
Often times we get fixated on what is directly in front of us that we lose sight of the road ahead of us. It’s easier to balance a motorcycle when we keep our head up and our eyes looking into the distance rather than looking down at what we’re potentially going to run over. It’s a fact in motorcycling… where you look is where you’ll go.
The same goes for distractions in our lives. Maybe you keep hearing no to your phenomenal sales pitches, or your daughter got a D on her math test, or you put on five pounds despite eating salad and going to the gym four days last week (yep... living this one now). Yes… these things suck and if you dwell on them you’ll get sucked into the vortex of ‘right now’ instead of keeping your eyes on the big picture.
When you look to your goals and the future you’re creating as your inspiration, you’re less likely to be distracted by temporary setbacks.
3. Plant your feet on the pegs
Staying grounded when the world seems to be crashing all around you is not easy to do. We get so caught up in what’s not going right that our thoughts spiral and we fail to look at this obstacle from a different perspective.
The best way I’ve found to stay grounded is to ask people to speak into my life, especially when I feel I’m losing control. I call it 'The Power of the Other'. There are people who have earned the right to speak into my life so I seek out their guidance. These are specific friends, my business partner, my husband, my coach… and when I approach them, I am prepared to answer the tough questions I know they will ask me. Questions that will keep me grounded in my truth.
I was on a women’s leadership panel where I brought up this concept when a young woman asked, “How do you know who has earned the right?” My answer was simple. When you share a challenge or a decision you’re facing in your life with your friend and her first response is to tell you what to do, she has not earned the right. However, if her first response is a question, encouraging you to dig deeper to discover a new perspective or create an a-ha moment for you, this is someone who has the Power of the Other.
4. Hold your line
I’ve talked about holding your line before. Quick recap… if you’re riding with a group of motorcyclists, holding your line means you stay in the left or right lane (in staggered formation) so not to crowd other riders or take away their escape lane in the event something happens (like a charging groundhog).
Holding your line in life means you’re staying true to yourself and what you believe in. In the last ten years, I’ve done some real work on my values by determining what’s most important to me, what that value really means in my life, and what thoughts and behaviors model that value. I then use my values as a filter for how I make decisions. When faced with a tough situation, I do a gut check to make sure there’s alignment between who I am, what I stand for, and my actions going forward.
When there is dissonance between who we are and what we do, it means we’re drifting into another lane. We're drifting somewhere we might not belong. When this happens it’s either time to steer back into our lane or signal that we’re changing lanes.
Unfortunately, overcoming obstacles with grit and determination is something that comes with practice, just like learning how to surmount obstacles on a motorcycle takes practice. Being resolute in who you are, where you’re headed, your skills, and the strength of those around you will certainly make the journey much smoother.
And if you’re wondering about Symone… I could see her face in her mirror and I wasn’t expecting what I saw… a huge, ear-to-ear smile. I was so proud of how Symone handled herself and her motorcycle that sunny afternoon. She is the picture of how we should all throttle through obstacles in our lives.
If you're ready to throttle through some obstacles but you're not fully confident in your abilities, I can help. We'll work one-on-one to identify the little critters popping up in your life and how you can surmount them with grit and determination. Sign up for a discovery call here.