Coaches in the Strangest Places

No conversation is more elemental than a conversation between strangers on a bicycle ride. I used to cycle with a club in Maine. When you cycle regularly with the same people, you form a wonderful bond with those who ride at your speed and effort. But I’ve also been on a few professionally organized multi-day trips. That meant cycling with folks you don’t know. You get to meet new people and, spending time with them on the road, you pick up lessons you don’t forget.

We were on a 10-day trip covering about 50 to 80 miles a day, from the center of Maine, into Canada and making a big loop through the Laurentians and back into Maine. On the second day we were on a gradual uphill stretch that seemed to go on a long time. I was familiar with uphills followed by downhills (duh). I mentioned to the stranger next to me that I thought we must still be going uphill because there was resistance. He said, “I’m a civil engineer so you can trust me when I say there are no downhills for the next 45 miles.” WHAT? I mean, what had I signed up for? Then he pointed out that after this long haul we would soon be in Quebec (SCORE!)

He was my coach that day. I was looking for a way to bail out until he put the struggle into perspective. Yes, I realized I could do 45 miles gradually uphill if it has a purpose, but perhaps more importantly, having someone alongside takes a lot of the sting out of the moment-to-moment. I actually enjoyed the day learning about being a consulting engineer and sharing business tips, on and on. On that day he was my coach.

The Lesson: You can do this, one pedal at a time. You can do it because you know it is worth it. But the bonus, the hidden lesson is that when engaged with another person, it just happens!

On that trip that I accomplished several spontaneous goals like riding up a 12% grade road in Quebec coming out of a little mill town (I thought they would have to bury me in the cemetery to my right) and taste testing strawberry milkshakes (somebody had to do it) to compare them in the event I ever returned and wanted to indulge in the best one. The accomplishments folded together producing a delightful and memorable week and half.

So now I am a professional health coach. Health is a difficult sell because “health” is an empty word to most of us.  Instead, think of it this way, health is shorthand for … I’m better   I’m able  –  I’m sharing joy with loved ones  –  I want to see what else is out there. Those are the real motivators. If I can offer people encouragement, course corrections, and conversation to keep them leaning toward their health goals, I have made an accomplishment that warms me and keeps me going.

Are you thinking of improving your joy in life? Choose a health coach for your journey. It’s time to lean in and create the life you want, one effort (pedal stroke) at a time.