ride out westLighten the Load

Last year I wrote a blog about a conversation I had with Art, a long time friend I met on my morning walk. Art was sharing a story of a motorcycle trip he took with some buddies out west. He decided to ride alone on a wilderness trail and got stuck. His Harley fell over, and the weight of the gear that Art had brought on his journey made it impossible for him to pick up the bike. Alone in the back woods, he had to dismantle his bike in order to upright it; then he had to repack and get back to camp, where his friends were waiting for him. His lesson at the time was to lighten the load of his bike so he could be more agile and more easily maneuver on his tours. It’s a lesson we could all use for life and business: to lighten the load when things become too complex and too heavy.

Art, About A Year Later

Well, I met up with Art again this spring and asked how his bike touring was going. A little older, a little wiser he shared that he had figured out a new solution to his touring problem. Art had discovered that he did not want to compromise while traveling. He likes the stuff he carries on his rig. He enjoys the comfort and the choices that it affords him. Art’s solution? He now tours with younger and stronger guys who can pick up his massive, heavily-weighted Harley if it falls. However, it does require him to have his team with him so he’s not caught alone on the wilderness trails. A very acceptable compromise in order to have life the way he wants.

So, What Lesson Did I Draw From Art This Time?

When life and business throw us curve balls, when we are pulled off course, when we have grown beyond our current capacity we are always given choices at the same time. A choice might be to stop, assess the situation, and decide to tighten resources and processes in order to continue going it alone. For those who want to maintain the status quo and who find comfort in remaining small, this is a perfect choice. Knowing your individual strengths and capitalizing on them will create a sustainable and stable life and business. The challenge is in the notion that “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying”. Even if you decide to stay small, becoming more efficient and more agile is required in order to stay vibrant and alive.

Another choice is to assess the situation and add the necessary resources to maintain or even grow to the next level. Your business has grown beyond you, and you are smart enough to know that it’s time to bring in others to help you reach the next goal. The challenge in this path is moving from working hard to working smart. Understanding the difference between abdicating and delegating and how you may lose your business doing the wrong one. Assessing your business, understanding your needs, having a clear plan, and bringing in the resources to take over your responsibilities are the keys to working smart. Your leadership skills come forward and your technician role moves to the background. In order to continue growing, you must become a great leader. So like Art, you have choices.

The decision is yours, based on your needs and desires. I love that Art chose one path and then decided to choose another because it did not fit his vision. A smart choice for him and great lesson for us.