Monday, January 31, 2011

mountainbiking lessons from an MBA class

Instead of riding this weekend, I was attending marathon lecture-sessions - from 8 in the morning till 9 in the evening, and then some homework.

Subject after subject and lecture after lecture it sounded exactly like mountain biking theory.

Lesson 1: Don't be scared of technical sections - challenge yourself
(from the business writing class)
You can buy a dual suspension with lots of travel and have it professionally set up; you can do some weights in the gym; even run a little bit and attend regular spinning classes. This will certainly make the uphills easier. But the only thing that will make you ride single track faster, is riding it. Add variety. You won't get better if you always ride only the tracks that you can ride already.
Same way that you can learn how balance sheets work and be comfortable with them, and have a super-fast computer to balance your sheets on, and know Excel inside & out. But you won't go anywhere if you only know how to balance sheets. If you're not willing to explain these to colleagues, or present them to management, you'll balance sheets till you retire. (Which is not a bad thing if you want to balance sheets ... or only want to ride up hills.) 
But if you want to ride fast down hills too, only way to do that, is to ride them.

Lesson 2: Confidence is everything
(from the presentations class)
Well, not everything, but a lot. If you don't believe that you'll clear an obstacle, you probably won't. And then when you fall, you say - 'see, i told you so'. 
But that's because you prepared for failure. Only way to build this confidence, is to go ride single track. Often. 'till you like it, and then there will be no turning back.
Same like when you have to stretch yourself a bit at work - when you have to do something that you're uncomfortable with. Do it till you like it - and when you like it, take on the next thing that you don't like.

Lesson 3: Small steps
(from the leadership class)
Lessons 1 and 2 don't mean that you have to go ride the provincial downhill course. Not a week after you bought your first bike, anyway. Ride things that are on the edge of your ability - not two miles above it. Learn to deal with unexpected surprises along the way - small surprises that you're a little unsure of. Go ride the green tracks at the bike park; first slow, then faster and faster. Till you've mastered them. Go play on the blue - carefully, till you know what the unexpected surprises are, then quicker. Go back to the green often. Only then you'll carefully go check out the black routes. And check that your medical aid is up to date, too. 
Same like you won't promote the shop floor supervisor directly to CEO, even though he was the best supervisor the company has ever had. Challenge him first by progressive (or horizontal) managing positions in different departments, so that the errors are contained; so that he stays confident; and so that he can learn. By the  time he gets to the top, he'll be addicted to learning and used to not having all the answers all the time.

Lesson 4: Darling may not be the best place for mountain biking
(from the research methodology class)
The research example happened to be about the Feasibility of Wind Farms in Darling. From the amount of research that was already done on this topic, it looked like there's a lot of wind in that area. So by induction it may be too windy to cycle there.  There's no wind in Joberg - I'll think i'll stay here for a while longer :)
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