Recently I had the good fortune of taking a week off of work to enjoy one of my favorite hobbies: bicycling. I participated in the Great Ohio Bike Adventure (GOBA for short), an annual week-long bicycle tour that features a route in different parts of Ohio each year, and attracts almost 1500 participants. Over the course of a week I pedaled almost 250 miles in 5 days of riding around Northwest Ohio along with a few of my family members (that’s me, second from the right).
During my week on the bike, I had plenty of time to think, and found a couple parallels between biking and my work life at Clear.
Lesson 1: Just keep pedaling.
Though Northwest Ohio is relatively flat, my fellow riders and I encountered a particularly hilly stretch of road on one hot, sticky afternoon. At snack stops that day, several times I heard the encouragement of “Just keep pedaling, just finish.” One of the appeals of GOBA is that it is not a race, and allows you to complete the day’s ride at your own pace. On the downhills, with golden wheat fields and vibrant green trees whizzing past, I felt like I was flying! But as soon as I hit the next hill, all that momentum was suddenly sucked right out of my bike, and then it was back to pedaling like crazy but feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere. In due time, with a lot of pedaling and walking up the biggest of hills, we all made it to the next stop on the route.
It’s the same with our work, and changing the paradigm for business software. Some days go great, we make lots of progress, and we fly downhill with no effort at all. Then other days, it seems like we work and work but just can’t gain traction, pedaling like crazy uphill and going nowhere fast. But, with time and continued effort, we can scale the hills, and eventually cross the finish line at the end of the day when we help others realize how much more valuable and useful their business software can be.
Lesson 2: Engage your senses.
Doing several 50+ mile rides on consecutive days was indeed a physical challenge, but I found all my senses engaged throughout the days along our routes. We started several days with the sight of beautiful sunrises like the one below, enjoyed delicious hot buckwheat pancakes flipped onto our plates, smelled the fresh air and sometimes the livestock at the farms along the route, felt the sun and wind on our arms, and heard the constant whir of pedals and the verbal cycling signals “Car back!” and “On your left.”
All the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of the rides energized me and kept my mind off my aching legs! I was fully engaged, with all my senses, all throughout the day, which left me feeling deeply satisfied.
Making a connection to business software, one of our goals is to eliminate as much of the day to day drudgery of jobs as we possibly can, to eliminate clutter and make tasks more streamlined and efficient. That way, people spend less time on completing the same mind-numbing tasks over and over again and can spend more time creating real value for their company. When people are freed to think creatively and engage with their work on multiple levels throughout the day, they’ll leave work more satisfied– I’ve certainly found that to be the case. Granted, business software might not be quite like riding a bike on a sunny summer day, but the idea of greater engagement for greater fulfillment holds true across both.
The experience of riding the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, connecting with people through a common love of cycling, and having a chance to reflect on some of the common themes connecting our work and life outside of work was restorative. It allowed me to return to work refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready to continue our efforts at Clear.