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The art of survival may keep you alive; your blood sugar stable, and even develop your aerobic capacity. Yet, could this very basic human instinct of self-preservation be limiting you in finding your desired success? Survival is rooted in our core. It is in our nature. We are created to survive. If you question the historical evidence regarding this fact, all you have to do is look in your purse or computer bag.
Are you prepared to survive anything life throws you, rain or shine, sugar cravings, new blemish, or a torn stocking? I am. I did a quick survey within my handbag to realize all the essentials it contained, “just in case”.
Hungry? Clif Bar. Feeling sick? EmergenC. Sunny out? Swimsuit. Unable to shift on bike? Rear derailleur hanger. Wheel magnets. Safety pins. Ear plugs. Travel Voucher. Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons. Allen key. Earrings. Chain ring bolts. I have it all. There is nothing wrong with being prepared. I just might take it up an obsessive notch or two at times, but preparation is the key to success, right? Well, yes, but how much does the basic instinct of self-preservation hamper our actual success?
How many of you are willing to push yourself in your training and racing just far enough where you can’t predict the outcome. You don’t know if you are going to dramatically succeed, or drastically fail. You do not know how your own story will end. What is stopping you? Survival? Why don’t you just take that risk and see how far you can go?
When looking at my own patterns, I found my greatest successes in sport and life when I was able to squelch those fears and take that leap. If I am able to remove the “what if” component out of my mentality, and check my pride with the valet, I am actually able to focus on completing my task at hand—succeeding to the best of my ability. I have often find myself writing the end of my own story based on my fears, limitations and insecurities, before I even began embarking on the first chapter of a novel towards potential success. You can practice and visualize all you want of your ultimate successful finale, but in order for that to materialize; you must release yourself from analyzing and rationalizing. Liberate yourself from the confinements of your own mind and innate sense of self-preservation. Take risk.
I am not talking about taking a corner at a speed faster than your bicycle tires can handle, or shoving yourself in middle of a dangerous situation, I am talking about taking a risk within yourself. Testing your limits by not worrying about the result. I think the largest component that is missing in sport is risk taking. Teammates should be willing to sacrifice for the other members and take risk for an ultimate goal. You shouldn’t always know the outcome of the event. There is risk in everything you do, what is holding you back? Survival? You have the peanut butter packet stashed in your purse, what else do you need? A superhero cape? Pack one. You will survive, but will you succeed? You might never know unless you take that risk.
As a professional cyclist, risk is part of the business, but I like to take it one step further and make it my trademark. I don’t want to be afraid of the outcome. Believe me, I have a healthy dose of respect for the asphalt, but when it comes to my performance, I want to race above my expectations. Does this always work? No. I have finished dead last and defeated. I have crawled in with caked sweat and my entire body fatigued and cramping, all joined with that aching crushed feeling. These spiraling emotions are wrenching and consuming. Yet, I firmly believe it is in those moments of defeat, that I learned what I was capable of, and that the moments of glory were not too far away.
If we aren’t willing to take a risk within ourselves and combat that overwhelming urge of survival, who else will be? Isn’t that competition? Isn’t that what separates self-preservation from greatness? I will always be prepared just in case, but I will also continue to challenge myself to throw out the script and go for more than just the typical screenplay. It turns out it isn’t about survival, but instead it’s about finding success through risking a loss of pride and results. Merely surviving a race doesn’t yield a win.
Find success in your ability to conquer your own limitations, not in expected results.