As a cyclist I spend a great deal of time riding. In an urban environment its hard to beat two wheels for getting around quickly or easily. And whether its on my old Kona modified hybrid or my trusty Vino scooter one thing is the same: when you’re mobile you’d better look around.
As a rider who’s gone down more than once (Arlo Guthrie said there’s only two kinds of riders: those who have fallen and those that will) I’ve learned a couple of things about being safe. And one of the primary things is to stay alert, keep changing your perspective, to look out for trouble before it looks out for you.
Its harder than it sounds.
On a bike you see things you don’t see on our four-wheeled cousins. The clouds look tremendous and expansive from the saddle. Trees and diffused sunlight take on a whole new perspective. Details of buildings and landscapes become more vibrant and attractive when there’s no windshield to separate you from them.
You can get distracted. You can become fixated. Locked onto to something to the point where its unhealthy.
Riding down the street safely includes a great deal of swivel headedness if you will. Examining parked cars for the door that might open in your path. The truck backing out of an alley on your left. The pedestrian about to jaywalk on your right engrossed in their cell phone oblivious to the fact that you’re speeding along on a destination course called sudden impact.
Career is an awful lot like that.
Young or old we all run the risk of getting consumed by tertiary events letting our vision morph into myopia. In HR especially we can get so excited, so pumped up by the urgency of the moment, we tend to lose sight of the big picture.
We become fixated.
Ever have trouble writing down your accomplishments during a performance review even though you worked your ass off all year? You were fixated. Fail to grasp the nuance and implications of industry shifts until a tsunami is upon you? Fixation. Lose sight of the big picture because a deadline consumed you? Fixed.
Much like the rider who endangers themself by paying solo attention to one thing too long we face the same risk in career.
The pace of work is defined not in a smooth arc from beginning to end but similar to urban traffic very much in stops, starts and fits. And just like cross-town traffic we need to drive our careers defensively looking out for hidden dangers, sudden changes and the elusive sweet spot that we can dart into to propel our momentum forward.
Two-wheeling is fun making the dreary commute a little more alive, but it comes with attendant risk. You have to look around, be aware of changing situations and think ahead. Gravel at the corner? A rough pothole? Standing water? All can be handled safely if you keep your eyes open.
Think of the parallels at work: new boss a tyrant? Co-workers toxic? Stuck in a losing division? The way forward is not to hunker down like a turtle but to look out, plan your moves and hit the gas. Keep your eyes open.
You too can navigate the surly streets of commerce – just don’t become fixated and miss the bigger picture.
Ride safe y’all.