Monday, 30 October 2017

Problems and Challenges Are So Often Fake - A French Lesson

I learned a lesson while cycling in Epernay, France in September 2010.

It was day two of 3 weeks cycling though France and Switzerland. The plan was to explore the Champagne Region before loading up the bikes and catching a train to Bern, Switzerland.

We departed Paris the day before and cycled the 155 kilometres to Epernay and our hotel on the pretty square in the town centre. Our evening included sampling some of the product the area is famous for.

I was a little leg weary and maybe still had some left-over effects from the flight to Paris via Dubai.

The area we were exploring was not hilly at all, there was little or no wind and traffic was light. There were undulations but nothing particularly physically demanding.

I recall cresting one such undulation and being concerned at the view in front of me. I was faced with a downhill roll followed immediately by another uphill of a few hundred metres.

My morale sunk as my mind processed the scene ahead and the pain my body was going to feel when the road again tilted upwards.

But push on I did.

And, before I knew it, I was over the next crest, feeling as if nothing had happened.

The lesson I learned is the problem we see before us is not necessarily real. We see it in the moment and process it in the moment with scant regard for what has gone on before, or what we actually know to be true.

I was fit and healthy and able to ride long distances in mountainous terrain, day after day and with relative ease and comfort. I also knew the terrain in The Champagne Region was gentle.

Very, very often, what we perceive to be a challenge or a problem in reality, is not one at all. In the vast majority of cases, we are equipped to handle most scenarios and situations by way of our skills, experience, knowledge and education.

We have the tools to do so, just as I had the health, fitness, experience and equipment to easily ride the uphill of the undulation.

This day in the Champagne region was delightful. Conditions were great for cycling and I was with friends setting out on a unique and fabulous adventure. *

However, in the moment and for no logical reason, I choose a negative mindset when a positive, happy, joyful and excited frame of mind would have been appropriate and based on fact.

Since that day, whenever I perceive a problem or issue, I return to that moment with my bike on that little hill in France and ask myself if I have the skills, knowledge, experience and education to address it? The answer is always yes, and I always no longer have a problem. (Yes, may also be by way of the experience needed to know to ask for help).

*If interested, there is a little more about this day that started in Epernay here (and obligatory photo in front of Moet & Chandon).

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