I fell in love with mountain biking a few years ago. Quite opposite to biking along the highway, mountain biking took me to quiet mountain paths and forest routes. I had finally found a way to join my biking enthusiast spouse on his rides. We would take off to long trips through the Alps and the Northern Europe.
What I learned was that mountain biking on the rocky paths takes quite a lot of courage. And that it even could be – pardon my Finnish – a Girl thing(!) If you hesitate for a second in front of a rock or a root the bike will either slip or back off altogether. But if you instead took a deep breath, focused forward and – most importantly – had faith, the bike would actually do the job for you and draw you safely to the other side of a challenging rock or a slippery root.
Downhills were the worst. I would keep hesitating to let my blue bike show her capacity and kept slowing down feeling how the ride got more and more unstable and finally had to walk down the steepest hills… Until I found this brilliant article on the psychology of mountain biking by Lauren Jenkins.
And it turned out that actually, mountain biking had quite a lot to do with performing (Book recommendation! Check out The Inner game of Tennis and The Inner Game of Music), read further and you’ll get what I’m after…
Part I – Biking
Lauren interviewed Rachel Atherton – a world champion – and shared these words of encouragement that would resonate with me and help me onwards with my new hobby. Here are a few quotes from her article:
Most of us have been there at some point. You roll up to the trail feature – roots, a drop, a jump – again and again, with your heart beating hard, gripping the handlebars tightly. At the last minute you stop dead. Eventually, you walk or roll around it, vowing to come back and beat it another day.
Sometimes we encounter things on the trail that scare us. While there is no easy way to overcome fear, there is certainly no better feeling than conquering it.
The more you do something, the less scary it is. Fact!
Time on a bike counts for so much. The more time you spend on your bike, the more variety of situations you will find yourself in, and it will become normal…
I often find that when I am nervous or I “fear” something, it is because I know deep down that I am not prepared for it…
Relax and let the bike move
…For mountain bikers it’s important to realise that the bike wants to go forward, to keep moving, to find the smooth line, so sometimes just having a little faith and letting the bike do it’s own thing really helps…
The three E’s; Evidence, Energy and Enjoyment
Evidence. Arm yourself with evidence of past experiences when you have ridden or dealt with something that you were nervous of, and I bet more often than not you were fine.
Where is your Energy focused? Make sure it’s in the right place. Don’t waste it wondering what might happen, just focus on what you know will happen…
Make sure you are enjoying yourself! Why did you start riding in the first place? I always find that I ride my best and am most confident when I am enjoying myself; laughter makes things seem a million times easier…
Realise you are not made of glass…by riding in the mud!
…Crashing makes you realise that you are not made of glass and it’s ok to take a spill. It’s rarely as bad as you think it will be.
Ride for yourself
Make it your own, ride to your strengths and forget everyone else. If you are scared, make your ride suit you… People have different strengths, so know yours, and ride by them. Forget what everyone else is doing.
Get out there, get riding, and above all else – enjoy yourself!
Part II – Performing
And now… Let’s bring it to peformance!
When we hesitate in front of a challenge, slow down and start focusing on ourselves, we become unbalanced and unsure. But when we take a deep breath, look forward into action and have faith – “I know I will manage this no matter what might come my way” – we are up to a very enjoyable ride, whether we will be speaking, singing, dancing or playing a game of tennis.
The more you do it the less scary it becomes – This may not always apply to performing but the fact is that the more you can take the performance like an every day situation – think communicating instead of presenting – the less scary it will become.
Prepare – We don’t run a marathon unprepared – why then a performance?
Relax – You have all the sources needed in You. When you take a moment and listen to your sensations you will get an easier access to your inner strength.
Evidence – Sometimes it can be worthwhile to take a moment to celebrate all that already has been done. I like to sit down and go through old articles or recordings, a journal is also a great thing to keep. Another thing is that we tend to forget our downs focusing on ups and when the downs appear they seem to appear from nowhere and throw us off the wagon. With a journal we might even start to see some patterns…
Energy – When we think of performing as a presentation it becomes a one way broadcast where the audience takes the role of a critic. When we think of performance as communication we immediately start an interaction where the audience is an active member of the process. Sharing instead of showing.
Joy – Happiness is contagious. Performing is all about enjoying and loving what you do and wanting to share your joy with the world.
Let it move – When we focus on the action, on the PROCESS, instead of the result, we are off to a rewarding adventure.
If it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger – We live and we learn in a world where every mistake is a new possibility – especially in jazz
Ride for yourself – When was the last time you sang for fun? Took a time off to do something just for you that involved no duties or obligations? If it wasn’t today, make sure it will be tomorrow.
And finally… If you’d like to dig deeper on this subject let me know and I’ll throw you a suggestion on how to proceed.
Shoot me an email today!