All of us have had a day like that!
What kind of a day you may be asking yourself?
Having rolled out of a warm bed early, crammed the carbs and driven to a race venue before the first rays of sun have risen above the eastern horizon. Prepared to compete and armed with every necessary piece of equipment theoretically critical for the task aligned to your ambition, everything money can buy – comparable to the best around, anxiously waiting for the start of the event.
There have been days looking around I have felt up to the task, even ready to conquer the entire race, shape it to my will and live the glory at the end. In fact looking at the people around me I have at times felt self-assured that, that particular day would be my day to crack the code and nail the race!
Sadly, but predictably as an amateur ‘that day’ has not yet happened for me on the bike. I have not yet been able to dominate and shape a race like the pros do. By this I mean, I have not had the opportunity to ‘craft a race’ to my liking and make the impact that every person who has put in thousands of hours of training feels entitled to make.
Ever felt like that at work?
Having followed the hand book and using my own nous to prepare to the best of my ability I didn’t just turn up for the race, I arrived with a certain hubris for the task at hand knowing definitively that my base miles, my shiny bike, nanotechnology coated shorts and helmet, my nutrition and blood pressure looked like the best of the best.
The best money could buy. To anyone looking on from the outside a picture of speed and endurance, a package ready to deliver!
Then why not shape the race?
It is almost embarrassing to think that on some level, kitted up and looking the part to anyone who cared to see – I knew on a very intuitive level that perhaps I was going to have it handed to me on many days I raced. That surprisingly didn’t stop me racing and on occasion feeling disappointed with the result. One thing I now know for sure, if there is misalignment between how you are training and what your ambitions are, there is a high probability that your goal is a dream and will remain a dream in perpetuity!
SO what is this endorphin crazed learning experience I forced myself to ‘enjoy’ from my 13th year way into my late 30’s?
I add emphasis to enjoy because there were such excellent times training with my friends that I would never swap them for anything. There were also mornings where the water in my hydration system was frozen solid and others when I left liters of blood on the tar seal in various parts of the world. The inevitable ups and downs of chasing a dream.
Of course with hindsight and the advent of all information everywhere available all the time I now know the reality of the situation. I trained my guts out, worked harder than I have ever worked and endured exquisite pain to keep up.
You heard me; I gave up my life, my kids my religion to keep up. No matter how hard I trained, no matter how shiny my bike was and how smart my lycra looked I was not going to shape races where my competitors had developed the ‘secret sauce’. You see it was the sacrifice, the intimate personal sacrifice that belonged to me that would get me to the races early and once there, at times feel the schizophrenia of the competition – “this time it is yours!” – “you don’t have the sauce.” – “lets race anyway!”
When you are chasing a guy’s back wheel suffering, you are inclined to believe that you are racing HIM.
This is not true.
In fact you are racing a tight knit unit of people all working together collaboratively to produce a result. This is the fundamental difference between a person who thinks he is an elite athlete and by all accounts looks the part and a person who truly is an elite athlete. Of course the outcomes are also always predictably different. The power of working on a win as a unit is the hallmark of professional racers and those who are not. The humility and ability to facilitate a collective effort of conditioning to have its expression in a performance is a skill and an advantage I have not been able to overcome in 20 years of riding and racing my bike.
It is the truth, the real definitive difference between those that think they are race shapers and those that actually are is the team they surround themselves with and like a conductive substance allow the magic of many to flow through every aspect of their performance.
Shaping any race is ultimately a collective effort that elevates and empowers beyond the capacity of even the strongest individuals.
KEY QUESTIONS THAT LEAD TO INSIGHT:
DO I have the team around me to shape races - alignment
Am I actually in the shape I THINK I am - metrics
Have I tapped into the collaborative potential of my team - breakthrough
DO I understand my capacity limits and what I need to make 'the sauce' - risk analysis
Have all hygiene factors been taken care of to clear the collaborative frequency needed for peak performance - process
DO I understand generativity and what it means for my business - innovation
Lance Armstrong said it was all about the bike - in FACT it is all about the TEAM. Research underpins this position that having a group of aligned people with a purpose around you will strengthen your personal performance.
Make sure you have it or keep following the guy or girl in front and sucking their dust!