by Liz Jansen
Although calendar yearends are arbitrary numbers in the continuum of time, they’re a good time to pause and take stock, assess what’s working and what needs changing. It’s a time to make sure my plans are aligned with my vision, get grounded and take a quick breather before heading into a new year.
I’ve learned a lot about life through motorcycling experiences. There’s not a lot of room for error on a motorcycle and that vulnerability makes them masters at teaching vivid, universal lessons about life. The rewards from using these lessons to recognize and overcome life challenges are priceless.
5 Personal Life Lessons from Motorcycles
- Vision. My eyes steer the bike. It’s Lesson 1 when I’m teaching new students to ride. I look in the direction I want to go because my eyes will certainly take me there. If I allow my eyes to focus on something other than the road ahead, that’s where I’ll go. Having a personal vision and staying focused on it draws me towards it. There are many demands and distractions that divert my time and resources. They may seem important in the short-term but in reality, if I’m going to give them energy, they need to be aligned with long-term success.
- Communication. Headlights, brake lights, turn signals and horn alert others to my intended actions, especially if the change is sudden. Being visually conspicuous can catch the eye of other drivers and prevent a collision. How I communicate with others in life is fundamental for maintaining healthy personal and professional relationships. This is challenging, especially in multi-cultural, multi-technology and multi-generational settings. It’s also necessary for collision avoidance.
- Decision Making. Sometimes I can’t see around the corner and I have to make a decision based on the best information I have. It doesn’t deter me from proceeding; I just need to learn how to manage the risk. Being prepared for the unexpected, remaining flexible, resourceful and creative all make for smoother transitions when the unexpected happens, as it invariably will.
- Weather. In a car I don’t think twice, but on a motorcycle, I take a keen interest in the weather so I know how to prepare. Wearing or carrying gear that allows me to adapt increases my comfort, safety and enjoyment. Riding in inclement weather requires skill, confidence, physical and emotional stamina and can test even the most experienced riders. Storms blow up in life too and my environment changes. Anticipating what’s to come, preparing for it and not taking it personally make it much easier to manage with minimal disruption. I often worry needlessly about something that never happens.
- Energy. Gas tanks have a finite capacity for fuel. Most bikes have an indicator to alert me that it’s time to fill up. Ignoring this warning sign for long enough will leave me stranded. I too receive warning signs when it’s time to fuel up. The problem is, they’re often less obvious and easier to ignore. As I become more self-aware and intuitively astute, I recognize the signs earlier and can pull off the road, fuel up and recharge my battery before I run out of steam.
What are your top life learnings from motorcycles?