So Ross, a close friend of mine and amazing endurance junky, threw a question at me late last fall and asked, “Do you want to do a road bike ride with me this spring?”. Now I had not ridden a road bike since I was in elementary school, but did ride quite a bit with my Dad back then. I had actually acquired my Dad’s old Miyata touring bike from him just before this and because I always like a challenge, I said, “sure”...I know you are thinking it… I didn’t ask how far it was, right? Well, I guess I should have asked that before I said sure, but I didn’t. I asked and he said that we were going to do a Metric Century (63 miles) in the Fort-4-Fitness Spring Cycle. I puckered a bit and repeated my response back to him with a little hesitancy in my voice.
Well, he had already been riding quite a bit, but I started to ride in the gym over the winter and then the day came when it was warm enough for Ross and I to get out and ride. The plan was to do 20 miles. I started out well keeping up with him, but on the way back he had to turn around for me a couple of times. I had my doubts, but Ross was always quick to encourage me. The day came for the Metric Century and we did it both feeling pretty well. So well, that Ross contacted me the next week to see if I was up for our next challenge; a True Century ride (100 miles) in the Dam-to-Dam ride in Wabash, Indiana. As I can’t say no to a challenge, I said “yes” and we immediately began preparing for the ride each week. I ended up riding almost 1000 miles to gear up for that one 100 mile ride.
The day came and the weather was not what we had hoped for or the type of weather that we had trained in. It was rainy, cold and the wind was blowing at 17 mph with gusts up to 23 mph. I knew we could do it together, but I also knew it was not going to be easy. We had planned to only stop 3 times at the SAGS, but ended up stopping at 5 of them. We had also planned to ride at an average pace of 18.5 - 19 mph, however, with the wind we ended up only averaging 17.5 mph. At times in the ride when we had the wind right in our face, I had to encourage both myself and Ross to just keep pedaling at a consistent pace and we would make it. I hadn’t planned on having to give so much encouragement to get through this, but I did.
As I was riding, I reflected on the fact that Ross and I had a plan. We trained to ride the plan and knew we would overcome the challenge due to our training and our plan, but the weather threw a wrench into it and we had to adjust. Life has a way of doing this to us in so many ways. We devise a plan and train ourselves to accomplish that plan, but things change; we lose our job, we have challenges with our spouse or child, we do something stupid to hurt a relationship, or we get a promotion we weren’t expecting.
“The weather changes” and we are not prepared for it. This is the life of a leader. We, as leaders, have to plan well, but we also have to be ready for things to change; and change quickly. We have to be ready to “adapt and overcome” as we would say it in the Marine Corps. We have to be able to do this because those that lead us are depending on us to take the weather changes in stride, to take a deep breath, to develop an adjusted plan and then to inspire those we have the opportunity to lead. We may only be thinking in a business sense, but this falls right into place in your home with your family or in your small group at church.
Are you up for the challenge to be a true leader? One that always has a plan, but can effectively adapt when it is needed so that they are always ready to inspire those they lead. Take time to reflect today on the last time your plan didn’t go the way you thought it would. How did you react? Was it like a true leader? Use it to help you grow; to continue to be a Learning Leader.