02 Jul Are you sitting too comfortably?
I ride a bike. I don’t particular like riding it, but I ride it 2-3 times a week for fitness. It is about 10 years old and on its last legs. It has 3 chainrings and 21 gears. Lately it has been getting stuck on the middle chainring, leaving the top 7 gears unavailable to me. Fine for going up hills but underpowered on the flat and downhill. I realised I was actually living the metaphor: ‘stuck in first gear’.
I found myself cruising more with the easier gear, only putting effort in when I absolutely have to, like climbing a challenging hill. There are obvious parallels with life and career, which is why the metaphor exists! The comfort of easy street in a large corporation will be familiar to many of us: attending meetings all day long, using our experience to contribute, managing a team and playing the corporate politics when necessary, only really changing gear when it’s the ‘busy period’, there is a team member down or a new job with bosses to impress.
After a few weeks stuck in the same gear, I realised a few things which troubled me:
- The journey was taking longer than before
- I wasn’t feeling as rewarded afterwards
- I enjoyed it less
I felt compelled to make a change.
After a few pathetic attempts to fix the gears, I managed to get it stuck on the outer chainring, meaning top gears only from now on. I gave it a whirl and found that I was pushing myself up the hills like never before, I enjoyed the speed of flat & downhill again and it hurt afterwards. I even got cramp from the extra effort. Above all, I felt like I achieved something at the end of it.
I don’t need to join the dots for you, suffice to say, if we don’t keep pushing ourselves, the comforting cruise gear can take over and our lives will be a little bit less rewarding as a result.
Restlessness is a positive trait that enriches our lives. It compels us to try something new, learn a new skill, take the leap into a new project or even just change our environment. Doing things the same way and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. You actually have to do things differently, take yourself out of your comfort zone and experiment.
What are you going to do this month that is different from the past?