The bike crash – Part 2

This is a continuation of the story of my motorcycle crash on 9th November 2006, 20km out of Orbost on the Bonang Highway in rural Victoria. In this part of the story I will share more of my thoughts, insights, learnings and realisations in the time since the bike crash.

“Any crash you can walk away from, is a good one” – Launchpad McQuack

Crashed VFR800
Crashed VFR800

At the time of the crash all I was thinking about was how to tell my wife that a) I was OK and b) the bike was not. At 7:30pm that night (the first opportunity to relax a little and make the call) I called my wife and said “Hi darling, I’m fine, but I’ve written off the bike”. Succinct enough and should get the important stuff out of the way. Well, it does convey the message succinctly, but no matter how it sounded (both in my head and in actuality), it did not get interpreted the same way. It also didn’t help that the crash happened so far from home and she felt completely helpless – questions start piling up but it’s not the time or place to ask them. To me, I was fine and that’s the most important aspect to it.

One other thing to note: this was a crash. It was an ‘accident’ insofar as it was not intentional (i.e. I did not intend to crash the bike), however I feel calling it a crash is the most realistic way of conveying the event. Plus, the word ‘crash’ also conjures up images of something hitting something else quite hard – which is exactly what happened.

In the weeks and months after the accident, I had been asking/answering questions and pondering quite a bit in the time after the

Having a nap
Having a nap

crash. Questions like:

  • Did my life flash before my eyes (no)
  • Did I feel lucky (yes – extremely so – more on this later)
  • Was I angry about the crash (no – these things do happen)
  • Was I sad about it (yes)
  • Did I cause it (yes, I should have read the warning signs re: fatigue and lack of concentration)
  • Do I know why it happened (yes, with hindsight and calm recollection)

The first question is the most interesting as many people seem to ask it of you when you have a serious crash. It’s true that a crash on a motorcycle is usually far more serious than a crash in a car as you have no crumple zones, airbags or seat belts to help keep you as safe as possible. At no stage did I fear for my life nor see my life flash before my eyes.

Bruised Leg
Bruised Leg

So what’s changed since the crash?

  • I now know & ride within my limits. I was fatigued and lacked concentration at the crucial end of the day. I had been riding well up until that point and did not know I had crossed an imaginary boundary that would rob me of such critical skills when I would need them most.
  • Any group rides have very clear rules set out and understood by all. This is something that will resonate with any of my fellow riders from the East coast on the Black Dog Ride (as part of the Riding4aCause project). I played ‘Dad’ a few times making sure everyone knew where we were headed next and even headed back to chase up the stragglers on a few occasions. To my OzVFR buddies this may be a change from my earlier riding!
  • No matter what you say, your message may be interpreted differently. What would you say in your first phone call to a loved one to let them know that a) you’re OK and b) the bike (or vehicle) is badly damaged?
  • I began working from home full-time. At the time, I had all the things in place to do so, but still felt a need to go into the office 4 days a week. Not being able to do more than just hobble around on my sore leg soon showed me I could do my job from home and be just as productive. I had wonderful support from one of the best managers I’ve worked with and she continues to be a wonderful friend and confidant to this day.
  • I realised I was put on this earth for a reason, and that I had not yet fulfilled it. I wasn’t sure what this was (at the time) but knew I was here to do something wonderful. I spent the next few months trying to work out what that was, but didn’t realise it. You know how the more you look for something the less likely you are to find it? This was one of those moments.
  • No matter how good you are; you can always be better. Up until the crash I thought my riding was brilliant. We’d
    The OzVFR Guys
    The OzVFR Guys

    travelled 650+ km’s from Jindabyne to Orbost and I was feeling good, being able to keep up with the others in most areas (I was not afraid to slow down to a pace I was comfortable with on some of the roads). History shows I didn’t truly learn from this…

This is by no means the end of the story, there are more thoughts to be shared with you in the 3rd and final part of the story where I will expand on the last 2 points and share with you exactly how this crash has changed my life and outlook. How have ‘big events’ in your life changed your views/outlook on life?

It's a journey, not a destination!

This is a minor rant, so be warned! 🙂

I’ve had enough of people looking at health & fitness the wrong way.

Fitness (and that dreaded hanger-on “Diet” and his ugly sister “Weight Loss”) are not one-off things you ‘do’!

  • Right now your fitness level is your fitness level. It can be better and it can be worse – it’s not fixed
  • Your diet is your diet – whatever you eat today is your diet. if you eat differently tomorrow that becomes your diet – it’s not fixed
  • Weight Loss is the result of taking other courses of action (such as increasing your exercise and changing your diet)

Many people see fitness/diet/weight loss as a one-off, thinking “once it’s done I’ll be awesome”, and then they can stop. I’m the bearer of a wake-up call to let people know that all of these are part of a journey, not a destination! Here’s the simplest way I can put this: Focus on becoming fitter. Do this through:

  1. More exercise and
  2. Eating better (note I did not say eat less…there’s a difference)

Focus on the act of becoming fitter! With this, you will need to change your diet; weight loss will happen.

Cycling does something great for me, and when I miss out, I feel bad (not for missing the cycling, BUT for missing out on the benefits – It relieves stress and makes me clearer in my thoughts and more resilient when things go wrong). It’s winter time here and getting out on the bike is hard(er) to do. I know I need the exercise in my week to keep me balanced! Make Fitness your focus through exercise and changing your diet and your journey will be more successful (I know, because this is what I have done!) 🙂

What are your thoughts on Fitness, Diet and Weight Loss?

The two most important people

Who are the 2 most important people in the world?

Here are some clues:

  • If both of these people are present, you begin Connecting
  • Connecting leads to socialising
    • As we understand more about each other, we move beyond merely connecting into the realm of socialising – of gauging what this other person’s motivations are, their views, their thoughts on various topics.
  • Socialising leads to Relationships
    • Relationships are vital to help us stay in tune with other people. I recently blogged that no one person can do it all on their own; we each have our foundation supporters and people we rely on; who keep the home running efficiently; who allow us to be who we are; who provide the support we need to do what we do.
  • Relationships lead to Understanding
    • Relationships lead to a better understanding of the world, an better understanding of ourselves and a better understanding of just how diverse and similar we are.

Coming back to the question: Who are the 2 most important people in the world?

You and Me

Look after you; Look after me; the rest will look after itself 🙂

What I learned this week!

Here’s a quick summary of things I learned this week:

  • Everyone you meet is on your side until you do something to annoy them or send them running
  • Everyone you meet is fighting their own battle, so go easy on them (If they don’t go easy on you, ask them why.)
  • Losing sense of yourself is a slippery slope
  • Those who have good, strong friendships can weather any storm
  • Riding a bicycle in the rain can be fun and takes me back to childhood when rain didn’t stop play!

And here are some questions I ponder:

  • Does light have/is it affected by friction?
  • If you are not self-aware…what are you?
  • How far in this world someone can get TRULY on their own?

How about you, what are some of the learnings/observations/questions from you this past week?

The new Three R's

There are a number of lists of “The three R’s”:

  • Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
  • Reduce Reuse Recycle
  • Read, Write, Recite.

After a recent discussion at a North Side Coffee Morning (#nscm), I devised a new list of 3 R’s to help focus a little more on things that count (outside the realm of the academic education arena). These 3 R’s can be used in almost all aspects of life, and is something i am trying to instill in my children:

Respect.

esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability*

Respect for yourself and others is an important trait to have. Not much can happen in this world without respect. If you respect the people that matter, it can take you far!

Responsibility.

One of the most important traits you can have is to be responsible: Responsible to yourself, your fellow man and the world you live in. Responsibility is an important part of life because it shows that you care about what you do and the impact you have. Having the fortitude to stand up and admit you stuffed up or hurt someone goes a long way. It’s also one of the cornerstones of trust, an important part of what makes the world go round.

Here’s one of my acts of responsibility I blogged about earlier in Taming the Ugliness.

Resilience.

This is a tough skill to learn. The ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back into it is one of the skills that will see you through many encounters in life, both good and bad! It’s quite a difficult skill to teach, however I have been trying with my boys to get them to understand that there will be times where things don’t go your way. It’s how you act when things are not going your way. It used to be called ‘character building’, but today I’ll call it resilience. Empathy with the ‘other’ side of the story or being able to see things from both sides can help.

Can you think of any other R’s that could make useful traits for life?

* All definitions from dictionary.com

Digesting The Blob

Mr Blobby
The Blob

What is The Blob?

When you learn something new for the first time, you will take in a lot of information, and for the most part, will not yet assimilate it to the point of understanding or comprehension. I liken this new knowledge to a ‘blob’ – it’s a mass of new ideas, terms, concepts, rules and language which have been introduced to you, but may not make much sense (yet).

Digesting the blob of new information takes time

A lot of people mistakenly believe they understand something the moment it’s explained to them; this is not the case. Many may understand superficially what they have just read, heard or experienced, but it’s not until it’s assimilated in the brain does it truly become something you can use. More often than not we will take away what we can use from a training course/event; but only after we’ve had time to digest the material and let the brain work out the best way we will store/use that material in the future. For some people, this ‘context’ won’t be found immediately, nor the next day. Sleep is an important factor in helping to ‘cement’ this new information in such a way to be useful to you.

Hump Day is when the learning happens

In my previous experience teaching technical training classes, the first 2 days of a 5-day training class were not the most productive. The students had shown up to the class, but not much seemed to be taken in or assimilated. But, a strange thing seemed to occur on the Wednesday – not only did the student show up to class, but they seemed to be there – in the present moment, ready and eager to learn. From that point, the remaining days seem to fly past. Why was this? With little to go on except my own experience, two things were at play:

  1. Inevitability: The students were not going to get out of the training course so they better get into it and enjoy the rest of it
  2. They’d forgotten their daily work chores, let the phone divert to voicemail and didn’t ‘just check’ their email – in other words, they’ve made a conscious decision to learn

    Blob digested!

This usually happened on the Wednesday – there was a shift in reason for being in the class – the students had come into the class ready to learn and able to fully engage, not only with me (as the instructor) but also with the other participants. Collaborative Learning environments have been shown to be some of the best environments to help all participants assimilate new information quickly and efficiently (where the students are also seen as teachers in themselves, sharing knowledge and experience with the other students).

Learning anything new takes time, and requires time to help make sense of it all. If you’re learning something new, give yourself time to understand it. Not only that, you should also share your thoughts and learnings with someone who knows you well as they can help you make sense of it and apply it to your situation. Learning is a fundamental building block of life – give it the time it deserves!

Stuck in a rut?

It’s important to keep moving in life, no matter what endeavour you are undertaking. The human body was designed for movement, not for inaction! Here are some thoughts from Lenny Henry which I think think resonate with me.

Education makes me feel young” “Don’t stand still and get stuck in a rut. Keep moving, because a rut becomes a grave. When my dad retired, he died within months because he didn’t have anything to do. He grew some vegetables and then keeled over. My dream is to always be creative and keep writing comedy, and making movies and television programs”.

My plan for the future:

  • To never stop learning
  • Set some goals each year on my path to becoming better
  • Keep my brain active by learning new things, expanding my relationships, meeting new people, Sudoku and puzzles
  • Staying fit & active 🙂

Do you have such a plan for your life? Let me know what you have planned either for 2010 or for your long-term future!

My 2010 Goals :-)

Family/Relationships

  • Reinvigorate my relationship with my wife
  • Enjoy time with my boys
  • More family trips away
  • Talk to my father more
  • Continue nurturing all my relationships with people I have met and yet to meet.
  • Continue to reach out to others to help them in their life journey

Fitness-General

  • Become fitter than I am today
  • Run 500km in 50 weeks (up from 250km in 2009)
  • Run once per week for the rest of 2010
  • Be able to run 5km in 25 mins/10km in 55mins

Fitness-Cycling

Fitness-Running

Leadership

  • Soccer Coach for my son’s U6 team
  • Volunteer more

Motorcycling

  • Riding4aCause – Cross-USA motorcycle ride raising awareness for Male Depression

Social/Economic/Other

  • Eliminate our mortgage as quickly as possible
  • Reduce our burden on the environment
  • Continue to look for simpler/streamlined ways of living
  • Look to expand my career into new opportunities, hopefully utilising my Learning & Development capabilities
  • Reduce, minimise or eliminate negativity

10 Rules For Being Human

I Stumbled across this list of 10 rules for being human by Cherie Carter-Scott, and loved them so much I’ve reproduced it here, with some slightly different formatting for emphasis.

  1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.
  2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, life.
  3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The failed experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately work.
  4. Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.
  5. Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.
  6. “There” is no better a place than “here”. When your “there” has become a “here”, you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here”.
  7. Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
  8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
  9. Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.
  10. You will forget all this.

Do you have any rules you’d add to this list?

2010, the year of Streamlining & Resilience

I have begun approaching 2010 with 2 driving forces: Streamlining & Resilience.

Streamlining

Streamlining is the art of getting by with less, but not specifically shedding large parts of your life; It’s a case of doing it slowly & gradually, removing things that don’t contribute to your happiness or adding value to your life. Do you have a stack of unworn clothes in your cupboard? Books you’re not going to read? Possessions that aren’t being used or don’t suit your lifestyle anymore? Then you may find an easier path to ridding yourself of these items through Streamlining – a little at a time! Change Management practices show that typically, too many changes at once overwhelm us and send us quickly back to our comfort zone where we decide that there wasn’t much wrong with our life before. Net result is we become fearful and resistant to change. However, making small changes across time is an easier path to happiness and fulfillment.

I came across this description of Streamlining from Sarah Wilson’s Sunday Life magazine post, and simply adore it. “Streamlining, however, is gentle. It’s about shaving off excess, and perhaps steering the boat a little to the left, for a more flow-y ride. It’s a smooth, glide-y ethos for life, and an elegant aesthetic. No gumboots required. Yes, streamlining makes life better. Of that I’m sure.”

Give Streamlining a go and let me know how you go with it!

Resilience

re⋅sil⋅ience: ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy. (from dictionary.com)
Dust Yourself Off

Resilience is the ability for you to mentally recover from some adversity; It could be something small, through to something life-changing. In any case, being resilient is the next step up from merely coping’ which aims to get you back to normal (whatever your level of normal is). Resilience is the ability to get up, dust yourself off, accept what’s happened and be able to continue onwards and upwards.

I began seriously exercising in 2009 (Cycling and running) and am continuing throughout 2010, and know this drive to be fitter & healthier is driving me towards being physically more resilient – able to absorb blows, illnesses and the like and bounce back. In 2010 I’ll also be working on what will make me more emotionally resilient as well, starting with my brain! I’ll be sure to document what I uncover as time goes by.

For more practical ideas to Streamline your life, check out the following:

For more reading on Resiliency and becoming resilient:

http://city2surf.com.au/