Drenched in sweat, covered in caked-on gravel dust, and with the constant reminder of saddle sores, I keep my legs pedaling at 85 RPMs while maintaining a heart rate under 137 beats per minute. So far, I have only stopped to fill my hydration pack and to change Audible books. At the end of the weekend, I will have completed over 130 miles. It is almost July in Nebraska, with 90-degree temps and big winds. I am covered in grit. I am tired, windburned, sunburned, and sore in places I don’t want to talk about. I start asking myself, Why am I doing this? What the hell am I thinking?
I have been training for the Leadville 100, regarded as the original and one of the hardest single-track bike races in the world. The race ended up being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ended up being okay. I tend to perform better when I have an athletic goal in mind, so I have continued training with the intention of riding the course in my own, self-supported version. Reka and some friends will be there, so I will have a cheering section and support – and I won’t have to deal with the dust of 1,200 riders.
Again, back to my question: Why am I doing this? With many hours in the saddle, I have had time to contemplate this question. I reflect back to the three trail ultra-marathons I completed last year, which, at the time, was nuts. I look back further and think about the first and only trail marathon that I completed in the worst possible weather. That was insane.
I eat another waffle bar for nutrition, take a salt tablet, drink some water, and keep grinding away. I am riding on a long stretch of gravel, on a massive hill, with the wind in my face. I smile remembering the time before that first marathon when my hip was replaced with a prosthetic. A couple days after my surgery, I decided to take my walker outside and walk.
On that first walk, I only made it two houses down before I had to come back. The second time, I made it to the light pole then turned around. Over the next week, my progress advanced – one light pole at a time. Slowly, I got stronger. Sure, there was discomfort and doubt along the way, but I achieved each new goal set by taking things step by step, even it was in the form of a light pole. Each success had initially been met with a little fear, some excitement, fierce determination, and eventually, a realization that what was initially unreasonable was actually within reach.
This memory made that enormous hill shrink. I became energized.
The point is, we often face discomfort when we push our limits. There may be fear, we may fail, or it might actually hurt; but if we don’t push our limits, we will never know what we are capable of. The only people who truly succeed in life are those who are willing to try, even with the possibility of failing. Yet, they never quit trying.
I consistently see this pattern play out within the teams, organizations, and individuals I work with. In some cases, an entire team may have to rethink how they do business, what they sell, or how they deliver their services. And given our current environment, if you are hoping life will return to how it was pre-COVID-19, you may be in for a reality check.
As we all walk into the new normal of the pandemic and economic environment, leaders must push the limits, even if it is difficult or uncomfortable. We must challenge ourselves to be unreasonable. The organizations that do not do this are destined to stagnate and become extinct.
As a leader in your organization, how are you pushing yourself and your team to new heights? How can you look outside the box to dream big, push, and achieve more than you ever imagined?
Sitting on that bike, I asked myself again, Why was I doing this?
I am aware that pushing the limits makes me better in so many ways – not just physically, but as a partner, advisor, and business owner.
I responded to myself by saying aloud, “Come on, Kluver! Put your head down and keep pumping!”
Remember, extraordinary lives in the unreasonable, so be unreasonable.
As a leader, are you pushing your organization’s teams to think outside the box? Do you need help with learning how to push your own limits? Reach out to us today to learn more!