Its hard to beat a ride in the woods

I was out for a long ride this evening, the first for a while, and as is always the case after a bit of a lay off from riding, I was knocked out by the breathtaking beauty of the area I am lucky enough to ride in, the exhilaration born of swooping down trails under the relentless power of gravity and the lung busting, thigh burning effort of getting up to the top of the trail in the first place.

The idea for this post quickly popped into my head. At exactly the point on that journey up the trail where I was about to give in!

Nothing worth while is easy, and giving up is not the way to get what you want out of life. I knew if I knuckled down and kept going through the pain, I’d have the sense of achievement of having got to the top without stopping, without quitting, and also the fantastic prospect of the almost out of control decent through the woodland trails to the quarry below to look forward to. In other words, mountain biking heaven.

Lesson 1: Pain is temporary, quitting is forever. (As another cyclist once said!) If you want to win. Don’t give up. Ever. I sometimes think this is the main reason that there is a difference between people. The reason that some people win and some lose. Some people just give up too easily. The market place (and your network) is littered with people who gave up. Critics or worse, people who have advice for you, a quick fix here or magic formula there. Like getting to the top of the trail, there is no substitute for hard work, without it you won’t win.

Heard the saying ‘work smarter or work harder?’ The simple answer is – Do both

You've got to put the miles in to succeed

Lesson 2: There are no short cuts to success. You have to put the work in before you can reap the benefits. Building your sales pipeline or generating leads takes time and effort. The harder you work, the faster you’ll get to go down the other side. One other thing, you have to keep peddling ALL THE TIME. The ride ‘down’ the trail is exciting but all too brief. If you’re not careful in no time at all you’ll find yourself back at the bottom. Unless you constantly build back up you’ll find yourself sat at the bottom of the hill looking up.

Lesson 3: You won’t get the most out of yourself unless you train. Natural talent will take you so far, but you owe it to yourself to ensure you maximise on your potential. Become a ‘forever’ scholar. Read, listen, practice. Attend seminars courses and the like. At all costs avoid the feeling that you’ve ‘made it’. If you are labouring under that particular misapprehension, you can be sure that in fact, and quite on the contrary, you’re on the way back down, and some one some where is over taking you. Someone willing to work harder, learn more, and not take their ability for granted. Someone that works on their game every day.

Lesson 4: You have to take risks. The best rides come with split second decisions on lines that you have to take on the trail. Decisions that if you get wrong, will result in a disastrous fall. But get them right and your enjoyment levels are off the scale! Getting it wrong on a mountain bike invariably results in a spill, but getting it wrong in your career has way bigger stakes right?

Well, yes, if that’s the way you look at it. Whatever you believe is the case, IS the case. So that risk that is just to big to take, IS a risk that’s too big to take. But a combination of healthy perspective (just who do we think we are anyway!) and an undertaking to always be kind to yourself (you’re a good person right?) results in a mind-set that’s not afraid to gamble occasionally. Ten years ago I risked everything I had built to join what was effectively a start-up – it was the best thing I ever did. I had the support of my family for one, but an attitude that no matter the outcome of the experiment, I would be ‘up’ on the deal. Even if I failed, I’d have learned something, I’d have met new people and gained new skills. Viewed through that lens, it’s a was a no brainer. You fall off, you just get back up and back on the bike.

Treat man made obstacles and natural with the same equanimity

Lesson 5: Sometimes people set out to trip you up. Sometimes the obstacles are just a part of the trail. Treat these bumps in the road just the same. Don’t give your ‘power’ to the other person. Don’t ever let on that they’ve reached you or annoyed you or whatever, it will just encourage more of the same behaviour from them. Just keep smiling and keep on going. I always like to picture the ocean and specifically, the tide in my mind’s eye when times get tough. If I can’t go through, I’ll go over or under, or round. The tide is relentless, so am I. And I don’t take it personally. At least, I don’t let on if I have taken it personally. I treat all the bumps, all the obstacles, all the little frustrations exactly the same.

I am too big to be bothered by them, too good to be brought down by such distractions. I’ve worked too hard to let myself get hung up on the games others play. Its that sort of mantra I go over and over in my mind when faced with the difficulties we all have to face. I learned years ago, if you tell yourself something over and over again, you’ll eventually believe it!

And one more thing

Mountain biking is a great pastime, its tough going, but the rewards are there to be had, for anyone willing to put the effort in. You’ll go some amazing places, and meet some amazing people. You’ll get yourself fit for a bigger life than you would have imagined. You’ll clear your mind, and relax with every trip. There is little better to do if you need a hobby or would like to take up an exercise regime. I can’t recommend it enough. Get out on those trails and have a blast!

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Thanks Mike, its a big feature of my training, involved with this for sure, but negotiating and mental toughness to a large degree too. Nice you have you back!

  1. strategyaudit
    strategyaudit says:

    This is good, pretty generic advice, but what makes it memorable, and engaging is the personal story.
    Being engaging, creating empathy, is the essence of effectively communicating a message.
    Well done.

  2. wagbrunothedog
    wagbrunothedog says:


    You have inspired me to write a similar blog on my favourite sport…watch this space… I will mention you as my inspiration

    Happy selling Mike

  3. Prith
    Prith says:

    Hi Tony,

    Just discovered your blog. Fantastic read – lots of stuff to learn and be reminded about!
    Thank you for setting up this space and sharing your expertise. Mountain Biking is a great analogy and has inspired me too.