by Liz Jansen
Using the shifter (a.k.a. the gear selector) on a motorcycle teaches life lessons about personal choice. As the rider, you alone control which gear you’re in, when you change gears, and the manner in which it’s done. To do so proficiently requires knowledge, practice, and skill.
Shifting improperly can get you bogged down or have you working too hard, risking burnout. Making wise choices puts you back in your optimal power band.
Here are the important elements to keep in mind when shifting gears.
- Collaboration. Changing gears requires skilled coordination of the gear selector, throttle, and clutch. Life choices are rarely done in isolation. You consider inputs from others and the effects your choices will have. Practice until you can do it smoothly.
- Choice. Shifting gears on a motorcycle is a conscious choice, done to make full use of the power required for a situation. It’s the same in life. You can’t control what happens around you, but you do control your response.
- Power. A motorcycle has multiple gears for a reason. One gear is not appropriate for all situations. The whole idea behind shifting is to make choices that maximize the power produced by the engine.
- Change management. A motorcycle’s shifter helps you deal with changing conditions. As conditions change, you shift gears to access the maximum available power. Life is not static, either. You’re making decisions all the time, and how you make them determines how much power you’re accessing.
- Practice. The mechanics of shifting a motorcycle are straightforward, logical, and simple. Learning how to shift smoothly requires patience, persistence, and practice. You’re not always going to make the optimal choice, whether it’s shifting gears or making a business decision, but practice and perseverance will win the day.
- Perception. Shifting gears is easier than it sounds. Once you’re on to it, it becomes second nature and you wonder why it seemed so difficult. Making mountains out of molehills is a common reaction when learning something new. Worrying about unlikely outcomes takes energy away from moving forward.
- Uniqueness. While they operate on the same principle, motorcycles shift differently than cars. Students who have driven cars with a standard transmission for years are still challenged when learning to shift gears on a motorcycle. While you can adopt a consistent decision-making process, how it’s applied will depend on your setting. Be willing to change and adapt.
- Self-awareness. Know the controls and get a feel for how they work. You don’t want to have to consciously think about it every time you go to shift gears. Knowing your strengths, capabilities, and shadows helps you take actions that are right for you.
- Momentum. You appreciate the value of a shifter when you’re under power. It does nothing when you’re standing still. To grow and discover your power, you need to be moving and making the choices that will further your personal development.
- Scalability. When learning to shift, start slowly in a safe area away from traffic and other distractions. As your skill and confidence increases, move to more challenging roads. Be it riding a motorcycle or navigating your life’s Road, don’t put yourself in situations you’re not ready for. Allow small successes to prepare you for more challenging times.
Shifting gears is about personal choice. It’s life lessons about being aware of your strengths, aware of your environment, and persisting in continuously changing times. Your choices determine how much power you express.
Read more life tips in 75 Tips for Mastering your Controls. Free Download for a limited time.