Looking for Hills to Climb
Boulder, Colo., is a great place to ride a bike. It has an extremely active cycling community, from world-class on down. We’re blessed with country roads, creeks and hills. When I say hills, I mean everything from gentle 2 percent grades up to lung-busting, lunch-losing 15 percent grades that would make a blood-doping cheater with monster quads curse.
Climbing and descending hills are both wonderful parts of training that serious cyclists enjoy, whether weekend warrior or pro. It occurred to me the other day as I was suffering on a climb (something way less than 15 percent) that cycling is a bit like business.
It’s extremely rare that a business can remain in the flatlands with no ups and downs. The longer you go and the more rewards you look for, the more hills you’ll likely find.
What slipped into my oxygen-deprived brain on this particular climb was that although riding downhill and coasting in business can be a lot of fun, it’s also dangerous and doesn’t prepare you for climbing. Only climbing prepares you well for climbing.
A buddy of mine who has grown out of shape started referring to himself as a “downhill specialist.” No one wants to hire a downhill specialist to run a business. They want someone who may descend well but knows how to climb like an angel.
If you’re hoping that your career and leadership experience will be all head down on the flats or adrenalin-pumping descents, you’re likely in for a rude awakening.
You don’t get to be a great leader by riding downhill; you become great by a mixture of ups, flats and downs. When you walk into the office tomorrow, don’t look for the easy stuff — go find a hill to climb!
Todd coaches CEOs to higher levels of success. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000 people. Todd is the author of, Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing).