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Prompted: Pedaling the Right Path
On balancing effort and direction to arrive at the right place at the right time.
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There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.
- Peter Drucker
Pedaling the Right Path
Let’s imagine for a minute that we’re on a bike ride. If we simplify things, we can assume we’re focused on two things: pedaling and steering. If we focus too much on steering and forget to pedal, we’ll come to a stop and topple over. If we focus too much on pedaling and forget to steer, we’ll get lost or miss a turn.
Often the pressures of everyday life are pushing us to focus on pedaling our bikes. Quotas, deadlines, projects, trends, etc. create the illusion that if we stop pedaling we’ll immediately topple over, and to keep up, we need to pedal faster.
But when we put our heads down and focus on pedaling, we sacrifice our ability to steer. It’s harder to know if we’re going in the right direction and easier to miss critical turns.
Traveling quickly has lots of benefits, but if we’re not heading in the right direction, there’s no reason to rush.
Shifting our focus from pedaling to steering or from execution to intention allows us to take a step back. With the new perspective, we can focus on doing the right things (steering), instead of doing things efficiently (pedaling).
It doesn’t matter how fast we’re pedaling if we’re not on a route moving us towards a worthwhile end.
The trouble is there are lots of well-trodden paths. If we’re not paying attention we end up pedaling along in the same direction as lots of other people who aren’t exactly sure where they’re headed.
As Mark Twain said, “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”.
Put another way, whenever we find ourselves focused solely on pedaling our bike along, it is time to pause and figure out where we’re going. It’s better to arrive at the right spot a few minutes late than at the wrong place a few minutes early.
Conversely, if we’re checking a map so frequently we’re slowing down our progress, it’s best to pick a direction, put our heads down for a while, and stop at a new location down the road to reassess where we’re headed with a new perspective.
Like most things in life, doing things well and doing the right things is a balance. Depending on where we are in life we may need to spend more time doing one or another, but keeping this question top of mind helps us to continue riding quickly and in the right direction.
Am I intentionally investing my time to reach a specific end or pedaling along without knowing exactly where I’m going?
Am I too focused on pedaling that I’m losing sight of where I’m going, or too focused on steering that I’m slowing myself down unnecessarily?
Could I benefit from stopping to adjust my route or do I need to double down on where I’m already headed?
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Thanks for reading! I’ll see you back here next Sunday.
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