Slightly modified from WellCoaches Inc.'s "There is no trial and error - there is only trial and correction," I'm running with "trial and lessons learned." - Seems the universe is pitching a lot of lessons at me lately and I've come to the realization that humility gets you much much further than denial and bulldozing strength to power my way through challenges like I've done in the past.
The biggest, most obvious example is getting through my massive setback last December - 10 months on now, after the accident that lead to a completely reconstructed shoulder, I'm moving on, nearly healed and deeply touched by the care of people who lead me through a very difficult time in my life...some lead...others kicked me through open doors of opportunity I couldn't even see and I've emerged poised to do this for others as I pursue a shift in my profession toward coaching.
But things don't have to be massively life altering to stop up even the best of intentions and I'm left pondering what it is that makes things so disappointing for me and how the tiniest of gestures from others pulls me through. I suspect that having high expectations for myself and low expectations for others is at the root of it all. Does it sound familiar to you? Maybe not, but hear me out.
Last year I got to stand on the podium in a 100k bike race - granted it is a small thing and really there just weren't that many women in the race, plus I relied on another woman to help me through, but still...it was fun for me. Two weeks later I was creamed by a motorcycle while riding my bike, crushed helmet, shattered shoulder and all.... So now, recovering I'm toying with the idea again...could I do this race...I wonder if I could get on the podium again, even missing out on 10 months of training???
So yesterday I took a stab at a race-pace ride : 135k and I was smoking it up...when I hit what must have been a sharp stone. ARGGGG! Clipped in and in a congested area of traffic and pedestrians I stuttered off to the side of the road and realized that I hadn't put my little pouch on under my seat where I carry my spare tube and tools...
Did I mention that I live in Cambodia and really don't speak the language? I was 50k away from my house...and suddenly devastated....and I began to walk, looking for someone to help me. Pictured here is the man...the angel, really, who came to my rescue.
So, why was I devastated? I had high high expectations for myself...I was strong, trying to get to my turn around destination in my own personal record time and I know better than to be without my tire kit....and my expectation was of the people around me that they would be entertained by the large foreigner wearing diapers, riding a bike that would cost a year's income, but that they would not be helpful.
I was wrong. After 3 attempts and nearly 40 minutes off my bike I was back on the road again - pumped by both the rest I had while dealing with my tire and the aggravation of lost time I pushed even harder for what turned out to be my best ride of the year....so far.
This just a day after another similar experience of my own high expectations for myself and low expectations for others being challenged. On Saturday I had a great class lined up...recently inspired by UK's Paul Hutson...a master of knitting together music into what turns out to be more like a soundtrack than a playlist....I pulled together a class I couldn't wait to teach. We were off to a great start when, 25 minutes into class, we lost the power....no electricity.
This is Cambodia after all...and it is not the first time I've taught with NO MIC, NO MUSIC, NO AIR CONDITIONING....but it is far from ideal and I just didn't expect it today, of all days...when I was so psyched to teach. Again...that moment of devastation when I'm sure I'm about to let the 20 people in front of me down as I fumble for a solution that does not exist, short of restarting the power grid that originates in VietNam.
But then someone shouted..."great! Bikrim Spinning®" and we all got a chuckle...and I said..."shall we go on?" and everyone cheered and we did it. I was playing music off my computer so I could hear it and keep the terrain of my class in mind....but they could not hear it. I tapped deep into the recesses of my coaching sphere and forged on...and was amazed by the reception.
Imagine that. No music. No fan to blow the air around. No air conditioning. No mic. All these things we come to depend on, but they rose to the challenge and we all superseded our expectations of ourselves emerging from the challenge better for it.
Set backs. Desired? no...never. We do everything we can to establish the foundations of success. But like salmon - stronger for their push upstream - we grow better when things don't go our way if we surrender to the helpfulness of others and kick down the doors which seem to be blocking us with confidence because we've all been here before.
A life without challenges and setbacks is hardly a life at all...Embracing challenges as learning opportunities is fortifying....
Now if only I can remember that at my next set back!