Look where you want to go, not where you are going

\"peripherique\"I have recently embarked on a new adventure, well, when I say adventure I guess I mean challenge!  Ever since an experience a couple of years ago on the back of a ‘motor taxi’ around the ‘peripherique’ in Paris I have wanted to learn to ride a motorbike.  So, having taken my basic test last year, I have embarked on my full bike licence this year. My desire has been driven 90% by the challenge of learning something new and testing myself and 10% by the dream of emulating Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman (The Long Way Around / Down for the uninitiated)  in the distant future.  This experience has taught me some valuable lessons and created some interesting insights for the world of work.

I have been taught by a couple of ex motorcycle traffic cops with a certain style (you can probably imagine). That, in its own right, has been challenging.  To be shouted at and have every single fault picked up and amplified and repeated ad nauseum has certainly made me aware of the need for positive reinforcement in the learning process.  The difference the odd positive comment made, when they accidentally let one slip, had me truly surprised at how fragile confidence was in the sort of learning experience I was going through.

Turning up on my first day and having to jump on a 500cc machine, having only ever ‘toodled’ around on a 125cc the year before, was daunting to say the least.  Part of the challenge was about facing my fear of bikes – the size, the noise, the weight … it all scares the living daylights out of me, and still does to an extent. However, with patience, positive thinking and listening hard to the instructors progress was made rapidly and a day of riding on the 500 helped me feel much more comfortable; just in time to jump up to a 600! OMG – only 100cc but a world of difference, this took some time to get ‘used to’, and definitely not ‘comfortable with’.  On both \"bikemachines, practice started with time in the playground area, slow maneuvers, riding through cones, stopping, setting off and learning to ride the bike slowly and under control.  Having established a degree of safety and control it was out onto the streets of Bolton.  The level of vulnerability is obvious I guess and the levels of awareness and perception/ anticipation you need to develop is astonishing.  If I have achieved nothing else I have made myself a better car driver!

As I write this, I have passed the first part of my test and have the second part to come, so fingers crossed.  But other than a recount of my latest ‘mid-life crisis’ what has the experience taught me that makes sense in the world of Kili Consulting.

  1.  Confidence is critical, fragile, but critical – in any learning experience or situation in which you are outside of your comfort \"confidencezone, your ability to seek inside your internal reserves, to create enough confidence to see you through is the difference between success and failure.  I found myself using so many of the techniques I have learned over the years – positive self-talk, positive visualisation and even positive body language (see the Amy Cuddy video) to influence my inner confidence.  As the quote goes – “if you believe you can you can, if you believe you can’t you can’t!” – never has that been brought home so sharply!
  2. Conscious incompetence is a great leveler – to go back to recognising that you cannot do something and the associated fear, humility, need to listen and learn from others, recognition that there are no short cuts to success is deeply uncomfortable.  It has taught me to celebrate success, look for positives and take nothing for granted; if you don’t, you get trapped in failure and incompetence.
  3. Look where you want to go – on a motorbike, (I know it sounds obvious) you go in the direction you are looking.  So if I stare at the kerb or the tyres too long, because I am worrying about them and want to \"Lookavoid them, guess what, I am going to be in trouble.  Forcing yourself to look through the bend, to see further than today’s issues, to visualise your direction of travel and focus on where you are going has never been so starkly contextualized.  The brain is a positive processor, give it the right instruction, the right focus and it will help you out every time.


If you take nothing else away from these short musings I would urge you to try the following.

  • Actively look to reinforce someone’s confidence by giving positive feedback regularly
  • Take yourself out of your comfort zone in order to remind yourself not to take what you have achieved and accomplished for granted
  • Set yourself a clear direction in the short, medium or long term and actively ‘stare at it’!


4 responses to “Look where you want to go, not where you are going”

  1. Great Blog Richard, thanks for sharing

  2. Rich, thought provoking blog. Definitely look through the bend but importantly, vitally, don’t ignore the pot holes in front of you and ALWAYS expect the unexpected.

  3. Great story Rich. A real lesson in the power of “AND”. Be cautious AND confident; be focused on the journey ahead AND acutely aware of your surroundings; be cool AND roasting in leathers during the summer! 😉

  4. Katie Lawson avatar
    Katie Lawson

    Great story. It must have been MOST intimidating to have ex-cops teaching you. That is good advice to ‘Actively look to reinforce someone’s confidence by giving positive feedback regularly’.

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