The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails.
~ William Arthur Ward ~
I thought about it in Japan as I was diving into the amazing story of the Tendai monks and their goal setting, their meditation. My goal as I was heading for Australia was to cycle 1500 km in one week and aside from that arrive in Sydney as soon as possible. Testing myself was key here. I knew it was gonna hurt both body and mind, but that was the whole point. Connecting with yourself can be achieved in different ways.
First 4 days I was heading towards 700 km. 12-14 hour cycling days. Tough winds blowing in my face and lots of sun. This was the first mental test as it didn’t coincide with my expectations. How could I have underestimated the wind? Starting and ending in the dark on that crazy road going all the way south. Setting up my tent at night in the long grass beside the road packed with snakes. Stupid. Fortunately I realised on time and got my act together on day 5. I took the decision that the 1500 km would be impossible. It had been going through my mind for a month but I had to forget the idea.
Next target was Sydney. Managed in 3 weeks starting from Cairns. Hot, long boring roads, big trucks, some crazy macho drivers and pain in the ass from the long days on the saddle. Cycling 180 km can be long when the circumstances are tough. Thing is, it’s not about the amount of kilometers, it’s about how you experience them. Ten hours a day on a bicycle, what to do with that time? What is it you tell yourself? What is it you feed your mind, thus your thoughts and emotions and how you eventually feel and cope with the circumstances? It was a tough one but in the end I did pretty well.
Companies feed on failure and insecurity. Good for sales. But in terms of nature the whole idea of making mistakes is to learn from it. To use them as stepping stones, to adjust, to reach your goals. To get better. There’s no successful athlete, actor or businessman who didn’t fail.
If there’s less fear for failure or you can accept the fear you have then new things and new ideas will arise faster because you know failure is part of the process, part of growth. You start to build on success not on fear. Besides, you are less sensitive for social approval, you can stay in focus.You might start seeing more possibilities and challenges. In my case that comes in handy. Cycling the world, every day is different, every day can be a challenge. You just take action. You are not implementing the negative future scenarios in your mind that won’t manifest 99% of the time anyway. It saves time and energy. I need it for creative solutions.
The circumstances were not good, bad even, but I can’t blame the circumstances. Blaming circumstances is a bigger weakness than you might think. Taking responsibility for whatever situation has helped me a lot cycling this world. Even if you get 7 (!) flats in one day, you are the one cycling there. It saves a lot of negative energy, you complain less, and don’t get angry that often (except at flat nr 4,5,6, and 7). You practice this and you also realise you are the one responsible for your choices, the position you are in, even at the most bizarre cycling days. It creates space. It gives the feeling that I am in control and nobody else which helps accomplishing my goals. It’s not the weather, it’s not somebody else, so I’m gonna to have to do it. Can’t hide. It’s a big motivator. Looking at problems in a constructive manner has helped me a lot. You never know how things work out. There have also been flats that made me meet wonderful people, people who have enriched my journey.
Set your target then that’s where your focus and your energy will have to go. 100%. If you set the goal of 1500 km in one week and another goal of cycling as fast as possible to Sydney then that’s two goals. If there would be only one than I could adjust the sails and maybe even use the obstacles in my favour. I could have cycled into a different direction and put all I had inside me to reach that goal. I couldn’t, I had something else on my mind as well. I made a mistake there, a good one to learn from. And maybe that’s why I did make the second goal because it had deep intrinsic value. That’s where my truth was heading.
It felt good arriving in Sydney. Mission accomplished and I was rewarded with a couple of nights at a cyclist’s house. A cyclist who owned a sailing boat. We sailed the harbour of Sydney. Adjusting the sails when necessary.
I learned. Again. Tough ride and had some profound feelings of gratitude. For the things that really matter in life. You just can’t get there watching a soap or scrolling your FB timeline. There are other ways, but I suggest you try it. Push it. See how far you can go within the realms of body & mind.