The Six Gears of Living at Full Throttle

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In 1998, I fell in love with a two-tone hunter green and charcoal Heritage Softail with Fat Boy handlebars. This motorcycle was my dreamy iron pony so her license plate read GYDYUP.  (Unfortunately, Giddy Up was already taken by a 1974 Ford Pickup.) Her soothing romp-romp-romp sounded like the heartbeat of a strong stallion but her road vibration in fifth gear made my hands and feet go numb at 70 mph. 

I needed a higher gear.

In 2006, Harley Davidson heard the cry of its numbed road warriors and released their first model with a six-speed transmission. A few years later, I upgraded to a 2007 Street Glide that made living life at full throttle a much smoother ride.

Please stay with my motorcycle analogy… I promise you’ll see the connection.

According to the motor heads at Baggers Mag, going from a five-speed transmission to a six-speed transmission reduces the vibration of the highway, reduces engine wear, and increases fuel economy. In sixth gear, the motorcycle is operating at its most efficient state, and the most enjoyable state for the rider. 

Riding at full throttle is optimized when in sixth gear.

Here’s the connection… I not only want to ride my motorcycle at full throttle; I want to live life at full throttle. To me, living at full throttle means I’m living the best life I can… where I am all in where it counts and my values mean something. 

Just as I shift through six gears on my bike to have a smooth, enjoyable ride, I rely on six gears to fully experience this ride called life. Here are my six gears:

 1st gear: What matters most.

Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least. ~ von Goethe

In 2008, I memorized this quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and I use it to guide my most important decisions. Before these words became a guidepost in my life, I was a guilty mom in jeopardy of losing everything. I was brought to my knees, living at the mercy of what mattered least. Despising the road I was on, I wrote down everything that was important to me, put those items in order of importance, and started living according to the hierarchy. When faced with a decision between two priorities, I asked a simple question, "What matters most?" When I clarified what I value most in life and boldly put those things first, the guilt dissipated.

2nd gear: I have a choice.

I’d love to tell you that I’m secure enough in my self-worth to not compare myself to others but honest truthful… I fall into the comparison trap.  If you’re like me, you compare your lowest low to everyone’s highest high. (Been on Facebook lately?) Whenever I start going down that road, I remind myself that it’s simply a matter of choice. I have made my choices in life and the choices I made got me to where I am today. I also acknowledge that other people have made choices that directed their lives. It’s OK that those choices were different from mine and I can't judge them or myself based upon those choices. One isn’t better than the other… just different.

3rd gear: Choose courage over comfort.

So I stole this one from Brené Brown. She is an amazing author who wrote Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and her new book is Braving the Wilderness. (Seriously… get all three of them!) I wrote Courage Over Comfort on a blue post-it note and put it on the wall where I’ll see it every day. There are times when we all need to step outside our comfort zones to grow into the person we are becoming. Sure, it takes confidence to make this little step but I’m talking about taking a huge, gigantic leap into a place we’ve never been before (but we’ve dared ourselves to go). It is in this moment that we need courage to brave being uncomfortable so that we become who we were created to be. I’m choosing courage every day as I create new content and pitch my message to larger stages. It’s scary but I’m getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It takes courage to follow a dream, pursue a passion, and live life at full throttle.

4th gear: Be a turtle.

When I was in college, my roommate’s mom accused me of wielding my power in the student senate to get her daughter kicked out of school. (Yeah right… like I could do that.) Little did she know that her perfect little angel skipped class, blew off assignments, and stumbled in at 8am reeking of beer and cigarette smoke. Even though I had nothing to do with it, I took her verbal thrashing personally and sought out the Dean of Students for a few words of wisdom. She told me, simply, to be a turtle. She reminded me that in life, people are going to say things that aren’t true and the best way to handle a situation like this was to let her hurtful words hit, bounce off my outer shell, and not take it personally. This mother’s rage said more about what her daughter did (or didn’t do) than me. Through the years, I’ve followed her advice of being a turtle and taught this practice to my own daughter to help her navigate the roads of junior high friendships.

5th gear: Student of the road.

I’ve spent the last few years honing in on what my values are (thanks, again, to Brené Brown) and being a life-long learner is in the top five. Looking at life as a journey, the natural expression of this value is to always be a student of the road. Always reading. Always learning. Always developing myself and learning from others.

6th gear: Love the journey.

There are two ways to go through life… living the journey where life is a drag and each day runs relentlessly, numbingly into the other. Or we can love the journey where our days are filled with joy, fulfillment, gratitude, and what matters most.  Life is too dang short to not enjoy it to the fullest! Sure, I’ve got lots of fears but regret is what I fear most.  I don’t want to get to the end of my life and say, “I wish I would’ve…” I want to get to the end of my life and say, “WOW! What a ride!”

These six gears (if you're not a motorcyclist, you could define them as mantras) keep me riding between the lines, in the direction I want to go, at my most efficient, effective, enjoyable state.

What about you…

What gears do you shift through to live life at full throttle?

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