I ride mountain bikes in the summer every Wednesday night with a cool group of guys. These aren’t your normal rides. These rides are more often than not rated somewhere on the epic scale. They are 5-7+ hour marches that usually start with an hour of non stop climbing and then go from there. They inevitably include some insanely technical downhill sections, trail clearing, backcountry trail finding, more climbing and a fair amount of air, crashes and broken bicycle components. The rides really push the envelope and they are a total blast. Afterwards, we all pull out the grills, coolers and start icing down the bruises over a couple of icy cold beers.
Last week, I headed out for a ride on Weasel Creek which is one of the toughest rides in the Bitterroot Valley – at least measured by the amount of broken bike componentry that it produces. As usual, the ride started with a non stop 1 1/2 hour climb and fairly quickly, I found myself at the back of the climbing group. As we rolled in to a rest stop at the top of the climb, I found myself at the back of the pack.
For me, it’s not a matter of winning or coming in first as such. That’s what I love about climbing the world’s highest mountains – there are no winners or losers. Only those that have summited a certain mountain and those that have not. What I love is having a barometer; a measuring stick and a mirror so I know where I am relative to where I want to be.
When I am on my A-game and in the form I need to be to climb the world’s highest mountains, I am leading the pack on the Wednesday night climbs. I’m pulling away and dropping the other riders like a dress on prom night. But this last ride, instead of being the dropp-er, I was the drop-ee. For me, it was a good ‘ole fashioned ass kicking.
And I loved every minute of it; kind of. Well, not really but let me explain.
What it showed me was exactly how much training I need to do before next January when Mantagirl and I climb Aconcagua – the highest peak in the Americas at 22,841 feet (6962 m). It was a reality check – direct, measurable, and impactful.
What gets measured gets done.
In a world where we are often too coddled and shielded from criticism of any kind, I believe that it is invaluable to be what I call honestly self aware. In fact, I believe my honest self awareness is one of my greatest personal traits. It lets me operate in a wildly optimistic state (hey, that’s who I am) and do some crazy things while staying real about results. Honest self assessment and genuinely constructive criticism are immensely effective tools for improvement. If you hide from measuring yourself, you’re never going to get to where you want to be. So why do we do it? Because we don’t want to feel bad about ourselves – which is certainly understandable.
What is critically important to understand and what the world’s top performers in EVERY field have learned to do is separate the two. Coming in almost last on that ride didn’t make me a bad person or any lesser of a person in any way. It didn’t make me embarrassed or feel ashamed. It did show me explicitly that I need to really ramp up my training for Aconcagua and exactly where I am relative to my A-game conditioning. AND THAT’S ALL.
There’s no other juice there or meaning there unless you put it there.
Learn to separate the two. Take constructive feedback – especially from yourself – as a snapshot of your state of being; not as a judgement on who you are as a person.
Once you do that, you’ll be open to more honest self assessment which is a fantastic tool to help you create the exciting, fulfilling and fun life – the ADVENTUROUS LIFE – you want.
I certainly don’t go looking for it, but every once in a while there’s nothing like a good ‘ole fashioned ass kicking to really help me move along.
So where in your life could you use a Good ‘Ol Fashioned Ass Kicking?