Life Lessons from Motorcycles: 7 Keys for Control

Control: 7 Key Lessons from Motorcycles

Control can be used to describe anything from being in control, to being at the controls, responding to controls and controlling. Motorcycles teach us 7 aspects of control.


Motorcycle: A motorcycle responds to direction based on fact. It doesn’t interpret, inject emotion or argue. Inputs that affect performance come not only from the operator, but also from the road and the environment in which we’re riding. Consequently, assuming all inputs have been considered, it becomes easy to predict how our bike will respond in a given situation.

Lesson: Except for Mr. Spock, it’s hard for us to keep emotions out of our decision-making. We’re constantly running what we see and hear through our own filters. This can skew reality and lead to behaviors based on faulty decision-making. Being aware of it is the first step to correcting it.


Motorcycle: It’s either stopped or moving. How we apply throttle and brakes, along with appropriate gearing, determines how well the motorcycle does either one. As the (well-maintained) motorcycle doesn’t do anything not directed by the operator, it’s up to us to be aware of what’s going on around us so we can adjust accordingly.

Lesson: The lines between stopped or moving are less clear. What is certain though are that thoughts and behaviors control our confidence, self-awareness, feelings and ultimately, our effectiveness.


Motorcycle: Although tempting, braking, which can stop us very quickly, may not be the best action. Ideally, we judge our speed correctly in response to the road. Brakes can get us in trouble in unexpected gravel, a sharp corner or with an object on the highway. Applying more throttle and counter-steering are alternatives. If braking is appropriate, they must be applied in the proper ratio, technique and speed. In any case, keeping our eyes on where we want to go is the best way to stay in control. Tweet Quote.

Lesson: Sometimes when life gets challenging, we want to stop. But that won’t get us through the rough stuff and can even make things more difficult. While we all face adversity, staying focused on where we’re going and drawing on alternative resources will ease the journey.


Motorcycle: Your throttle is your friend. Lose your nerve and ease off on the throttle inappropriately and you’ll go down. It’s needed for momentum, forward direction, getting through rough spots – and getting off the starting line!

Lesson: It’s up to us to decide when to make a move, how quickly we’re going to go, how quickly we slow down. Once we understand how to apply our power, it’s a lot less intimidating and easier to let go.


Motorcycle: We use the shifter to select the appropriate gear. To maximize power, we operate within the power band. When situations change, we adjust our style accordingly.

Lesson: Personally and professionally we can find ourselves in situations where our power just isn’t effective. Either we’re bogged down, or we’re overdoing it. Adjusting our style and approach to the situation puts us back in our optimal power band.

Turn Signals, Brake Lights, Headlights.

Motorcycle: Turn signals, brake lights and headlights are all indicators of our intended action. Using them alerts others to our intended action and helps avoid collisions.

Lesson: Using clear communications, confirming that the messages we intend to send out are those that are being received, goes a long way in averting misunderstandings, hurt feelings or miscued behavior.


Motorcycle: Checking cables, connections, turn signals, brake lights and headlights prior to going out for a ride is a good, proactive practice. It gives us greater confidence in our ability to travel safely, knowing that we can be seen. .

Lesson: Confirming that the messages we intend to send out are those that are being received, goes a long way in averting misunderstandings, hurt feelings or miscued behavior. A few clarifying questions are a good idea, especially in matters of great importance.


This post continues exploring the themes introduced in Life Lessons From Motorcycles: 12 Principals of Survival.





Author, writer, student and motorcycle aficionado Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. No helmet or jacket required.