“It’s not a matter of IF…it’s a matter of WHEN” -Ollie

Sorry for the lack of posts…I’m wrapping up the riding season here in New England after one of my busiest years ever on the bike.  12 track days, over 5,000 mi on the ADV bike including a two-week trip to TN and back, and a lot of time in the shop. A good season by all accounts. 

As expected, it didn’t always go without incident.  As I’ve written before crashing happens. I fell several times on the ADV bike this summer, a few of them could have been bad. I was lucky. 

A friend of mine this summer commented: “It’s not a matter of if…it’s a matter of when.” after another friend had a bad accident at the track.  He wasn’t being dismissive, just honest. Unfortunately, his time came just a few weeks ago at the track.  A few minor injuries. He’ll heal up fine and be back at it in the Spring I’m sure. Plus he’s only a kid…16, but he learns fast, and I’m confident he will be better because of his mistake.

These crashes and a few other “work” incidents got me thinking.   

A few weeks ago I told an executive at a very well know company that it’s not the mistakes we make that matter, it’s how we respond to those mistakes.  That’s true in business, in life, and in crashing.  Look, it’s going to happen, nobody is perfect.   

I’m dealing with a peer right now who will not accept that he made a mistake, even though everyone around him is adamant that he did, and are asking for him to take responsibility so we can move on.  His reluctance is not only holding up the project but undermining everyone’s confidence and trust in him.   

Intentionally blaming outside factors or others is a strategy some people take. Golfers are infamous for it to protect their ego and confidence.  Bad lies, fliers, spike marks, wind gusts, or the just plain “I hit it perfect it just didn’t go in.” are all comments you hear repeatedly from PGA pros. In these rare cases I can understand it. Golf is a solitary game depending on mental state and confidence more than anything else at the highest levels.  Maybe in MotoGP that’s true as well.  But not for us. 

So, how will you respond to your next crash? 

There are a lot of nice little proverbs.  Getting “back on the horse” is an easy one. But I think there is a lot more value in our crashes that we can take advantage of. Just putting it behind us might be detrimental to our growth when you think about it. Definitely put it behind you, but first take some time to learn from it. 

So, when I crash the first thing I try to do is remind myself it’s ultimately nobody’s fault but my own.  Sure, I could make excuses, and there may have even been factors beyond my control that contributed to the crash, like another friend hitting a Turkey at about 100mph mid corner (Tom saved it somehow!). But nobody made me get on the bike in the first place. Nobody else decided where to ride that day, what line to take, or how fast to go. Nobody is judging the terrain for me or giving the bike inputs.   

EVERY crash is ultimately my fault. 

A prominent pro and instructor here in New England is fond of saying “The bike isn’t going to crash itself.” It’s really that simple. People crash. 

So, after accepting responsibility for crashing, I think it’s important to admit it, to yourself and others.  Let it soak in. Verbalize it. “That crash was my fault.” Sure, maybe someone pulled in front of me, or I hit something slick…. guess what.  Those may have been unfortunate and maybe unavoidable factors, but it’s still my fault.  Insist on taking responsibility and admitting it. 

Now, is where the learning takes place. Once we’ve come to terms with who was responsible (us), we can analyze the events and mistakes much more objectively and try and determine where we can improve.  The answers may be simple, or they may be complex. We can have others help us, ask their opinion. But none of this can happen without taking responsibility. 

Once we understand what happened, we can then make changes to how we ride, the decisions we make, or just be more aware of what the limits are.  None of this is easy, but it can’t happen at all if we don’t admit it was our own damn fault. 

In my experience there is another HUGE benefit to taking responsibility. Confidence. I find that I am better at rebounding and regaining confidence when I acknowledge the mistake, analyze it as best I can, and decide on specific actions to take to mitigate it in the future. Then I can truly put it behind me. It takes out some of the “what if” and the doubt in my mind the next time I arrive to that fast, downhill, off camber right hander that took me out last time.  

Oh yeah, it wasn’t the corners’ fault, it was mine.  

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