Let’s face it – surviving and thriving in the professional world can be challenging at times.  To be successful over the course of your career, there are many factors which must be considered and there will certainly be adversity along the way. While on a long mountain bike ride recently, I thought about the similarities of traversing the rocky trail I was on and navigating the career path.  I noted several common themes:

1.  You have to keep your balance or you could fall

From the moment you take off the training wheels, it’s all about balance. If you don’t have balance on your bike, you could be testing the effectiveness of your helmet! If you don’t have balance at work, some area of your life will certainly suffer. Remember that work is important, but considering your home life is equally important. Everyone’s balance is going to be different – find what works best for you and avoid crashing!

2.  Continuously work to improve your technique

Cyclists train to improve their fitness and technique. If they don’t train properly, they’ll never reach their fitness or competitive goals. Training is equally important in your professional life. If you don’t wake up every day with career improvement in mind, you may not be prepared when the next promotion opportunity arises or when you find yourself in the job market. The job market is increasingly competitive and having a high level of “career fitness” will put you in the best position to succeed.

3.  Find your proper cadence

How many times have you seen a running or cycling race that is lost because someone exerted too much energy at the beginning, only to fade in the final meters? Cadence and pace are extremely important while cycling. If you start a new job and charge out of the gate too quickly, only to fade when the excitement of the moment fades, you lose the effect you were trying to display to your new supervisor and coworkers. Everyone’s tolerance for a high work cadence will be different. Find the pace that works best for YOU.

4.  You need both power AND finesse

To be an effective cyclist, especially off road, you’ll need to be mindful of the delicate balance of power and finesse. If you’re too powerful, with little regard for finesse, you’ll more than likely damage components on your bike – bent wheels, flat tires, broken handlebars, etc. Similarly, in the office environment, exhibiting attributes of power are important. People respect confidence and credibility, but without a proper level of humility those positive personality traits can quickly become liabilities. Say please and thank you. Show appreciation for a job well done. Be Emotionally Intelligent.

5.  Be passionate

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll notice this is a common theme for me. Passion is so important in any leisure activity that you decide is “your thing”, and even more important in your career. Be passionate in how you approach your job. If you don’t believe in what you do enough to squeeze out a little passion, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate and find something you truly love.

6.  If you fall down, get back up

If you ride a bike, you’re eventually going to fall. When I first became a competitive mountain biker, a LOOOOONG time ago,  I had a mentor reinforce that to me almost daily. He would say “if you never crash, you’re not trying hard enough or going fast enough.” Without taking calculated risks, you’ll never reach your full potential. Don’t let adversity keep you down or define who you are. You are who you want to be, and what you’re willing to work for.  If you fall down, get up and try it again.

So, go strap on your helmet and mentally prepare yourself for a great ride! Enjoy your time out there and keep your balance. Don’t go too fast, because you need enough energy to get back home and spend time doing the things you love. As for me, I think the trail is calling my name . . .