Top 5 life lessons from mountain biking – Lesson 3

We’ve explored two life lessons from mountain biking, faster is safer and cadence counts. Now let’s look at (pun intended as you will soon see) the third:

Where you stare is where you steer.

See that large rock in the trail ahead? The one you desperately want to avoid? The one that is getting closer and closer? The one you know will send you flying over your handlebars if you hit it? The one you try to take your eyes off of but can’t?

The one you just pounded into?

How could you have run into the rock when you intentionally tried to steer clear of it? Because you focused on it and not on the safe trail well beyond it.

Whether on a mountain bike, on a trip, at work or in life, where we direct our attention is where we will head, for good or… for a mouth full of dirt (or worse).

Don’t believe me? Try this.

On a white board or large piece of paper, draw two dots, at least a foot apart. Now try drawing a straight line from one to the other while you focus on the end of your pen or pencil. How’d that work?

Do the same thing by drawing another two dots. This time, try to draw a straight line by ignoring what you’re drawing and focusing your eyes on that second dot, your destination. If you’re like most people, this second line will be straighter.

The drawing exercise shows the positive side of focusing on where you’re going. With mountain biking, it works the same: Look 10-20 feet beyond your front wheel rather than right in front of it. You’ll keep to your line (the trail you’re following) much better and you’ll avoid obsessing about things like that rock you’re about to run into. Focus on the rock instead and, bang, you achieve a painful Zen-like state of oneness with it.

On a trip, if you focus on all of the things you want to avoid, I’m not suggesting all your worries will come to pass, but that very attitude will affect how you travel. Expect a lousy hotel and you’ll find plenty to complain about regarding your room or the service. Assume that the locals are rude and chances are your interactions won’t inspire spontaneous displays of affection.

Focus on the positive, however, and you’ll find it. Not always in ways you expect, but that’s one of the joys of travel.

So start looking. Not at the things you want to avoid but at the things you want to remember, the things that bring you delight, the things that add meaning. You know what they are. Just start looking.


Check out Lesson 1 if you haven’t already, as well as Lesson 2, Lesson 4a, Lesson 4b and Lesson 5

If you found this interesting, why don’t you share it with others?