In The Turn

How motorcycling helped me find the right balance between success and happiness

my-view-from-the-bike

Motorcycling is truly an out-of-body experience. I first got on the back of a motorcycle 10 years ago while vacationing with my husband and was hooked. The sights, sounds, and smells of traveling on two wheels can spark an explosion of sensations that is absolutely intoxicating. The adventure and thrill of the ride makes the journey matter just as much — if not more — than the destination.

When was the last time you felt that way — found pure joy in the journey?

A lot of leaders I know, including ‘achievement addicts’ like myself, are destination-driven.  We’re determined to reach our goals no matter what it takes. For me, I was so focused on my career and where I wanted to be in 20 years that I didn’t care about the 19 years that would help me get there. I worked myself so hard that everything — and everyone else around me – soon began to suffer. Even worse, I found myself asking the question “Is this all there is?”

Focusing on a destination isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Going full throttle in both your work and your personal life has its advantages. But it can’t be all you’re about.

Many people are searching for a better balance between the journey and the destination. You can only go so fast for so long. Is there a way to strive for your goals and still enjoy the ride of your life?

Through motorcycling, I’ve been inspired to think about the journey and take a different approach to how I live and lead. I found some answers in a principle called “looking through the turn.”

Looking through the turn

One of the biggest challenges motorcyclists face is handling turns. As you approach a turn, you must look where you want to go rather than focusing on all the potential hazards within the turn itself. The difficulty comes in keeping your eyes focused on where you want to end up while using your instincts and experience to adjust within the turn — all at a moment’s notice.

The concept of “looking through the turn” has influenced my journey, both in leadership and life. It was also the inspiration for my book, Leading Through the Turn.

Here are three ways “looking through the turn” can help you find the right balance between success and happiness.

• Keep your eyes focused on where you want to end up – It’s easy to get distracted. We hear about destinations others are headed for, goals that sound more interesting. Our heads get turned by what sounds like a better job or happier life. Not that you can’t course-correct, but if you do that all the time, you’ll never accomplish anything substantial.

Getting clarity about what you want is essential if you’re serious about achieving something big. Don’t get spread too thin. Stay focused on your most important goals regardless of the distractions, and you’ll increase your chances of getting there.

• Find a way around the obstacles – Hazards happen. We must develop instincts and experience to assess what’s going on and maneuver around those things that cause crashes. Adaptive leaders are good at recognizing challenges when they crop up unexpectedly and mobilizing others to solve problems in real time.

Our personal lives are filled with obstacles too – relationships, parenting issues, health and financial problems. The key is to develop the react/respond muscle so it works as quickly as possible and keeps us moving forward.

Don’t let obstacles become an excuse for why you’re not finding success or happiness – or both. There is always a way around an obstacle if you’re willing to keep trying.

 • Live in the moment – Many times we’re so focused on the destination, we forget how to enjoy the ride. Life is meant to be savored and experienced. We only cheat ourselves when we miss the scenery along the way.

When we ride, my husband and I will occasionally pull our bikes over, put the kickstand down and just drink in how beautiful it is. This always makes the journey more enjoyable and memorable.

How often are you pausing to celebrate success at work? Saying thank you to others? Letting those in your personal life know how much you value them? Take a good look around and appreciate where you are right now. You must make time to live in the moment, because it will be gone before you know it. Embracing the journey is key to enjoying the ride.

By looking –and leading — through the turn, you can find greater balance between your desire for success and your longing for happiness.

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