The Formula for Success: Double Your Rate of Failure.
The golden hour had settled in around us,
and despite being slightly cross-eyed and achy all over, with 2 miles left to go, I turned around. After 9.5 hours on the bike, here I was u-turning and paper-boying back up the climb. Ernie caught it on camera, because he’d already paused to take in the view.
I’d failed to see it — those sunset colors simply dripping off the forest leaves. Blinded by the goal of getting home and off my saddle, (ok…and maybe also mad at myself for getting dropped on the last stretch home), I’d almost neglected nature’s reward for such an epic experience.
As I digest the framework of self-supported bike racing, I could write about how beautiful these gravel roads were, how much my saddle sores were a buzz kill and how my knees alternated feeling like they might explode. But you can learn that on your own if you go ride 160 miles.
Believe it or not, that’s the easy part.
If I can offer value to anyone, it’s not (yet) going to be how I pack my bags or how we pace ourselves as a team. I hope to one day be able to offer that advice to anyone eager to learn!
What I want to pass on is what’s real to me in 2019:
Go fail at something you love.
Yep. You read it correctly.
Because if you live only for the success, or quit before it gets hard, you won’t have the sense that cycling gives much back to you — you might even feel like it’s taking something away from you. You’ll focus only on the pain and discomfort (or worse…the lack of return on your investment) without realizing all the benefits and beautiful moments of pleasure. You might miss the fact that nature’s sunlight was dancing in the trees — just for you!
Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM once said,
“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really.
Double your rate of failure.”
For a long time I hated failure, because I thought failing equalled BEING a failure. There is a huge difference. Failing is a temporal action…the other is a permanent identity!
Fail-ING doesn’t mean you’re a fail-URE. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of my time faltering and even pulling back when cycling got hard, wondering if racing my bike was the “right thing” for me or not. I had countless doubts and still struggle with being, by nature, a very self-critical person.
It’s easy to take on a skill, learn a lot in the first few years, and then plateau — that’s exactly what happened to me. I experienced a large rate of growth in my first few years of being a professional, and then just got stuck at top 10. Always a top 10, rarely a podium.
Ernie warned me, getting to the next level would be twice as hard and would require twice as many failures. He didn’t found a software company, but Ernie knows some stuff! But, I at that time, I didn’t like what he was saying very much. I pulled back instead of digging in and committing to a breakthrough.
What if you’re putting in the hard work but not making any gains? Do you convince yourself your options are now exhausted and that you’re plateaued for eternity? That you weren’t meant to do this? Maybe you’ve already convinced yourself you’re a failure.
Failing does not make you a failure — so don’t stop at the plateau!
Be fearless in your pursuit of the next climb. Outwit the demons inside you so they don’t prey upon your weaknesses anymore. Commit to breaking through, even if that means you never “win” what you’re after, because at the end of the day, it’s all about the learning process.
To get something back from the bike — to have a breakthrough ANYWHERE in life — you must commit to a process. If you struggle with confidence, you’re most likely lacking a process.
I always used to say, “I know what’s wrong, I just don’t know what to do about it.” A lot of people get stuck just not knowing what steps to take first to get out of their unhealthy patterns. As hokey as it sounds, creating a morning routine for yourself will be monumental in confidence growth. Win the morning. Win your day.
It takes willingness to practice the fundamentals over and over again. And willingness to fail.
I promise you’ll watch me fail some this year, because I’m committing to a breakthrough, so it’s bound to happen. I’ll be sure to share it with you, too, because the other thing I’ve committed to do is be open about my real journey. It helps me immensely to share through writing, so please share with me, too! Let’s help each other learn things! If you need resources, message me, and I will give you the list of resources that have helped me U-turn and see the forest for the trees.
I believe it’s only through committing to the process you grow the confidence to say: