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Thought Leadership Series by the Professor: How to Deal with Change - Lessons from a Motorcycle

By: John Regan

As springtime approaches, I’ve been enjoying spending time on my motorcycle. It’s wonderful to feel the wind in my face, the subtle differences in smells and temperatures, and seeing the growing spring vegetation as I ride along the back roads.

Being on my motorcycle reminds me that successful navigation of curves is an important lesson on how we can be intentional during periods of change – both in life and business.

Getting thrown a curve is part of both life and riding a motorcycle. The key to riding out these curves, is all in how you approach them. The basic skills learned from riding a motorcycle are equally applicable to navigating the curves in your life.

  • Keep up your momentum. Don’t stop, keep powering through and let your progress push you forward. You have a destination you’re heading to, keep going there!

  • Focus on the end of the curve. Resist the tunnel vision on the issues right in front of you, envision the end and the successful completion.

  • Balance the pull of the curves by leaning hard. Rely on family, friends, or co-workers to offset the pull you are feeling.

Here’s the process of navigation on a motorcycle when you look up and see the curve coming at you:

Enter the curve at an appropriate speed and use your momentum to carry you through. Slowing down too much makes your bike unstable and increases the potential for a stall or falling over in the middle of the road. On the other hand, accelerating may throw you through the far side of the curve and off the road. You need to allow your momentum to carry you through the curve.

Look at where you intend to go, not the road directly in front of your tires. Why? From a physical/psychological process - you steer to where you look. Focusing down the road, into the end of the curve allows you to cruise smoothly and almost effortlessly along the line that takes you through each curve. If you’re focused on the road immediately in front of you, your reaction time decreases and you may not have time to correct before running off the road.

Lean deeply through the curve. Don’t try to fight gravity, you’re getting pulled hard to the outside of the curve! Lean and balance that force that’s pulling you the other way. While it may look from the car behind you that you’re going to fall over, the lean is actually the most solid way to get through the curve.

Remember that in life and business, these same practices will help us to negotiate the curves that we’re all going to encounter.

How do you approach the curves of life?

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