My friend and I travelled down to Dorset in the West Country last weekend.

Except we cycled there. And back. 

Starting in London, it was two days of pedalling through sleepy villages and lost lanes. The weather was glorious and the scenery was stunning.

Yet I mostly struggled to appreciate the views as I endured a roller coaster of hills and emotions.

Developing a resilience mindset

The trip to Dorset is part of my preparation for an event where I will race my bike 2,400 miles from Belgium to Turkey this summer. I want to find out if I can complete an endurance race with a resilience mindset. 

This doesn’t mean I want everything to go perfectly.  That would be unrealistic when I will be pushed to the edge of - or beyond - my capability. 

Instead I want to test my ability to bounce back when things are not going perfectly. Because life isn’t linear or predictable. Whether it’s a culture change program or preparing for an endurance event. I think we under value our ability to adapt when things don’t go to plan. 

I discovered two key learnings about developing a resilience mindset during the ride.

Lesson #1: The power of purpose

‘WHY am I doing this?’

I asked this question with almost every hill and twist of the road between London and Dorset.

It was partly because I wasn’t at full health on the ride. I had been unwell a few days before and hadn’t quite recovered. Yet it exposed a fragility in my mindset.

At one level the answer was easy: we have a big race in the summer and this was a key training session as part of our preparation.

But as we cycled through the country lanes I realised I couldn’t articulate why I would freely choose to cycle across an entire continent. I have been on many epic adventures in the past so it wasn’t about physically proving myself.

I was drawn to sign up for this race for a reason, yet in the moments that mattered my failure to know why affected my resilience. 

I have a feeling this race is important in helping me to develop movement as a tool for performance in business - this is my vision at Made to Move. So I am going to try and articulate this intuition before my next big ride, to develop a stronger sense of purpose that I can use as a tool in my resilience practice. 

Lesson #2: Feel the fear

I was also full of fear as I cycled towards Dorset on Saturday, and I realised how much it was reducing my resilience. 

It was most telling with my cycling partner, Felix. There was none of our usual banter as I quietly focused on making one pedal stroke after the other. I was in my own little world as I displaced my fear onto specific worries such as the height of my saddle or noticing that my knees were hurting. 

But there were moments where I would break through this and Felix and I would share a joke, give each other some good news (‘only 25 miles to go!’) or stop for a coffee. When I was able to connect with my friend, the feeling of relief was palpable. 

This was a big insight for my resilience mindset: feel the fear! I had been trying to escape the fear by over analysing my anxieties and ended up isolating myself in the process.

So I’m going to practice what happens when you feel the fear without shutting down or cutting other people off. On our next ride together I will remember to look up and still be able to crack a terrible joke!

Finding the challenger spirit through purpose and fear

I think my insights on purpose and fear are just as relevant when we want to challenge the status quo in our work.

We can all say what we want to change, but how many of us can say why we do it? Do you have a cause that you wholeheartedly believe in that informs your actions? If your talents and capabilities were put to work in service of something bigger than your goals and objectives, what impact might this have on our resilience?

And how often do we talk about feeling afraid at work? Not often. Yet I suspect many of us frequently feel fear in the workplace, especially when we are doing something different from the normal. What might happen if we had the courage to admit that we were afraid?

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