If you live or work in Adelaide it would be hard to ignore the fact that the 2013 Tour Down Under started this Sunday 20th January. My office is just a short stroll to the Tour Village in Victoria Square and reports of the spectacular (or otherwise) performances of teams and individual athletes has taken over as the main topic of conversation and news reports …. and it is only day three!
I have to admit that it has been a while since my early days of cycle racing but I still remember the challenges, immense pressures and sometimes overwhelming expectations of endurance and perserverance required of a person who desired to succeed at an elite level. You only have to listen to Lance Armstrong’s recent confessions to Oprah to get an insight into that.
On our website, in my “Team” profile I list some key lessons I learnt during this period of my life and I thought this would be the perfect time, amongst the backdrop of the glamour and excitement of the Tour, to share some of my cycling “war stories” and the things I learnt that I believe apply equally as well to cycling as to business.
Lesson One – never giving up.
As a junior, I was in an open race that started at Blacks Road, Flagstaff Hill and finished in Victor Harbor via Myponga and Yankalilla. The bunch was moving fast through the climbs up a steep section of Sellicks Hill when the bracket through which the cable ran for the derailleur “let go” and I went from bottom to top gear in one hit.
My immediate reaction was that the race, for me, was over. There was nothing I could do to fix my bike and by this time my support car had arrived. Conceding defeat I began putting my bike on the back of the car just as Les Gill (the president of the club that I belonged to) pulled up and told me “don’t give up”.
After assessing the situation and applying a bit of creative problem solving Les grabbed some old fencing wire and began bending it around the centre bracket to apply the necessary tension on the cable. After a few minutes and with the wire firmly in place he then told me to get back on my bike and chase…. and I did. I got back on my bike and chased even though there was no way that I could possibly win.
I reached the top of Sellicks Hill and was through into Myponga before I eventually caught sight of the first of the stragglers who had been dropped by the bunch in the climb through Sellicks. By the time I reached Yankalilla, I had started to overtake a few riders and gain some ground. I knew because of the major fall I could no longer win but I could still chase and catch every person and group I caught sight of.
I eventually reached the finish line and with the fencing wire still in place I finished the race. In fact not only did I finish the race but I ended up winning a prize for the first unplaced Junior.
In our lives, there are lessons that impact us powerfully. For me, this was one of those lessons. I still have the bracket in the top drawer of my desk to remind me to never give up.
For small to medium sized business owners trying to compete in the current economic climate it may feel like a long uphill battle and when things go wrong or a strategic part of our business fails it is easy to become overwhelmed and think that it is all over and time to give up.
I could never have gotten back on my bike and finished the race had it not been for Les Gill who was prepared to share his wisdom, creativity and resourcefulness, implement a temporary solution and encourage me to get back on my bike and back in the race. Interestingly enough, the improvements in bike design over the intervening years means that this design fault has been addressed and would never happen again.
I don’t know what stage you are at in your business but if you are at the point of packing it all in and giving up I would encourage you to give me a call and explore what creative and resourceful solutions we can find to temporarily fix the problems and get you back on your bike long enough for us to design some longer lasting improvements to keep you in the race and achieve your goals.
For further information, please contact the author.
This article is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Tri-meridian Corporate & Commercial Law and is intended to be used as a guide only. It is not, and is not intended to be, advice on any specific matter. We do not accept responsibility for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of this article. Before acting on the basis of any material in this article, we recommend that you consult your professional adviser.