It’s midway through the Bike Rally and naturally I start introspecting about what is going on for me and now also for my team, which has become central to this year’s experience.
Last year, in Kingston, I wrote about all the learning I had acquired about cycling on these very long consecutive rides. I was struggling a bit physically and was relying on Sam to lead me (and pull me) through.
This year is completely different for me physically. I have a well fitting bike with a good saddle. I trained enough to enjoy things and I understand the rhythm of the Rally.
When we first hatched the idea of being team leads this year, we were excited to bring our friends to ride and also support us, creating a broader community of riders and crew in love with the Rally and the organization it funds (People With AIDS Foundation Toronto). Personally, however, I was very frightened at the thought of such a direct leadership role in a social event. I had bad experience in my 20’s of taking on stuff and basically bailing because I was overwhelmed. It’s part of the reason I shied away from volunteer work or running anything more complicated than a dinner party for the last 20 years. I just stuck to my comfort zone, one on one helping.
This commitment stretched everything for me. I had to be social where I knew no one. I had to endure my inability to remember names and navigate the people who knew me while feeling like a jerk because I couldn’t pull their name from the grey matter (If you are one of these people, I am so sorry. I know you, I remember you and I probably like you. Just…brain). I had to organize, delegate, write a lot of emails and remember a lot of STUFF. Sam and I traded lots of things between us but I am RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE DOING THE HARD THING. I put pressure on myself for sure.
Basically, I was struggling with a paradigm in my mind that said I can’t do this. I’m going to choke in the clutch. Something is about to go horribly wrong and it’s my fault.
This was epitomized by my epic restaurant reservation fail this evening, where I booked a lovely place for 16 and then when I called to confirm, realized I booked it for tomorrow. I had to madly scramble to find somewhere else that wasn’t a gross chain. And you know what? I did. I got the message to everyone (thank you Facebook, for this small mercy in your tyranny in my life). It was delicious. They loved us and gave us a gift certificate to raffle off for $100. I mean…good thing I made that mistake. It turned out even better!
So what does this mean and what does it have to do with sport? Endurance , perseverance, stubbornness, striving, competitiveness, growing, going farther and faster, this is sport. It’s also organizing. I had unwittingly acquired an ability to stick to something and follow through, remaining fairly sure I could do it if I just hung in. I could now couple that with all the other skills I never doubted, compassion, passion, connectivity, caring and being openly thrilled for and with everyone on this journey with us.
So tonight, at dinner, and really all the other moments of riding together, helping each other and all our team mates, laughing until I couldn’t breathe…all these moments show me that I most certainly can lead. I can lead in the way I hope to be led. I can be that person, push into it and stay there.
Sport and leadership for me are really a melding of individual achievement with group goals and it’s taken me 48 years to get it. But now I do. I really do.
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