Thursday, May 6, 2010
I can't stop now...I'm in too deep...I must PERSEVERE...Part III of IX
Part III—Thinking Flexibly
"Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good...” Malcolm Gladwell’s right of course with this observation, but itz no novel idea! In Gladwell’s book, The Outliers, where he offers lots of compelling examples of guyz that practice, practice, practice, practice, he comes to the conclusion that guyz that practice a really lot tend to enjoy success at the thing being practiced. That practice comes first, and then comes mastery; furthermore practicing a lot leads to a high degree of likelihood for success. In this essay, I am attempting to apply aspects C&K’s research on the kinds of habits highly successful people tend to take on and to then make the leap to applying these concepts to endurance cycling events like the upcoming Trans-Wisconsin Race...
Of course the whole idea of success begs the question: Are some people successful because they, early on, adopt these efficacious habits? Or is it the case that once in the game, people that internalize these habits become successful, after doing so. Essentially, one can ask the legitimate question—What comes first, the “good” habit which leads to success or success which leads successful people to have the time and the wherewithal to reflect upon the attributes they possessed to allow them to enjoy success? The fact of the matter, for us dear reader, is that anyone at anytime can adopt a habit (good or bad). The message being that, “Ari, I was wrong all along, you can teach an old dog new tricks!”
Part III: Thinking flexibly. In any event, for our purpose, the next habit that successful people tend to take on is thinking flexibly. To think requires a concerted cognizant effort....much of what we do in our daily lives involves robotic or automatic maneuvers. WE are hardwired to streamline all of our efforts and this includes the simplification of thinking in the on-going and evolutionary quest for efficiencies or energy conservation. Yet, successful people spend an inordinate amount of time consciously making the effort to think, evaluate, assess, and re-evaluate their environments and their roles within these arenas.
The adoption of this habit of flexible thinking is important in successfully completing long endurance cycling events, like the Trans-Wisconsin or the like. “Flexible people are the ones with most control,” states C&K. A personal sense of control is a key factor in pulling off a long race. I have been in races where I felt like I was completely at the will of other racers; such a mindset is less than optimal and invites a sense of desperation over the long-haul. Flexible thinkers can take a bit of group confusion and/or ambiguity as long as they feel an outcome is imminent and that the others are all committed to the goal. Yet, these are also people that have genuine confidence in their own intuitive abilities and thus when gridlock seems the likely outcome within a group dynamic they will go it alone if their “gut” tells them to do so. This very scenario played out at Checkpoint 2 in April’s Trans-Iowa, where essentially the group's dynamic force simply trumped the individuals’ intuition. Due to factors (and parameters) beyond our control, our little group of four essentially grounded to halt because the situation had become so ambiguous that we were unable to decide on a “group” course-of-action, gridlock ensued when the goal became confused. Even the venerable Meiser and his trusty companion, Gorilla, seemed at best, unsure of how to proceed (they ultimately did the right thing, the successful thing, and moved...onward!). In stark contrast to the confusion rampant among the first groups into Checkpoint 2, Team Petervary never hesitated. To them the goal was never in question or in doubt. Sheepishly, I asked him, “what are you guyz going to do?” He replied nonchalantly, “We are good to go, we have the gear, we are just going to get something warm to eat, and then we are riding.” Such is the power of perseverance, the power of managing impulsivity, and the power of coming prepared both physically and mentally with options covered.
Successful people understand (and acknowledge the pros and potential pitfalls) the power of groupthink. Furthermore, according to their research, successful individuals do not overlook the big picture, C&K use the term, “macro-centric” to describe this point. Macro-centric thinking can be thought of as having a birds-eye view of the task at hand or having a kind of conceptual visualization of the overall challenge. But these successful guyz not only see the prairie, forest, and finally Lake Superior in a holistic idealized fashion, they also pay close “attention to details and orderly progression...” (micro-centric) as they move along the often bumpy trail. This means that the successful ones are constantly shifting “perceptual positions” so as to keep an eye on both the prize and the immediate situation.
To recap: Habit #1: Perseverance=Always fighting the good fight, don’t bail unless itz obviously a failure, live to fight another day. To persevere implies use of time to win the game...think “war of attrition”; Habit #2: Managing impulsivity=Mitigate spontaneity, visual success, and come with a plan (with options) to achieve the end goal. Habit #3: Thinking flexibly=Rewire or “reboot” often, keeping an eye on the ultimate prize, but don’t forget to re-lube your chain every few hours, take in 20 fluid ounces of water and 280 calories every hour... The strategy may need to change if the unexpected occurs, the tactics may need to altered from time to time, but the goal of splashing Lake Superior’s frigid water upon ones tired feet by Monday evening, June 21st does NOT!
Get fired up for Part IV Responding with Wonderment and Awe...I am working on it, but I am "awed" by the fact that we have snow on the way!!!!