Getting others to join the ride

Biking in South Island New Zealand

Several weeks ago, I crashed on my bicycle when I slipped on a metal strip while crossing a bridge. I was rather lucky that I didn’t seriously hurt myself. I did earn a trip to the emergency room in an ambulance and got a single stitch in my elbow along with a bunch of bruises from my hip down to my ankle. But I could walk and was back on my bike the next weekend.

When others found out about my accident, many people shared stories about their accidents or near accidents on their bikes. However, the reaction to the accidents were very different. Many people talked about how they stopped biking because it was too dangerous and drivers were too distracted and rude. While others, like me, were back in the saddle as soon as we were able.

I have been thinking a lot about what is motivating me to continue to bike even though I have been hurt and know I could get hurt again. I have posed the question to several of my biking friends. Their answers included seeking a challenge, being addicted to endorphins, biking being easier on joints than running, and loving it. They also talked about what scared them about biking and that it was a constant risk-benefit analysis about how much they push themselves.

For me, I am happy when I am on my bike. I love to be outside, feel my own power, push myself, and be with friends. So, for now, it is worth the risk.

However, I have a lot of things I do when I am biking to reduce the risk of being hurt and increase my enjoyment. I avoid heavily traveled roads, I ride where drivers are expecting and considerate of cyclists. I seek out newly paved and smooth roads. I cycle with friends who are experienced and passionate about cycling. I carry spare tires and tools for when equipment fails. I travel to beautiful and remote places to cycle.

In technology, we are constantly venturing out to implement projects or initiatives that have transformative impact. The journey to success often depends on asking people to manage change. Much of the change that needs to happen has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with how we work together and get along and whether we can get others to join the ride with us. Change is inherently risky.  Like biking, there are some people who enjoy the challenge and risk and are willing to jump right in. I know I am one of those people. However, most people want reassurance and support, because they have scars from previous change initiatives.

Over the last year, I have asked the Temple Tech team to take a change journey with me as we implemented “A Wiser Way” training to develop self-managed leaders at every level. It has been amazing to see the changes that individuals have made and the positive impact that it has had across the university. As individuals have examined their stories and shifted the way they interact with each other, our projects are being successful in unprecedented ways. We are getting things done and having fun.

As we plan our journeys, we can do many things to encourage others to come on the ride with us. Paint a picture of why a change will lead them to a better place ultimately. Make the change enjoyable. Be prepared for the accidents and setbacks that are going to happen. Give people choices. Realize that people have different abilities and speeds, so we need to accommodate training wheels and racing cycles in our plans. Make bike paths and ensure smooth roads on the transition. Develop empathy for others. Do not overwhelm individuals with too much change. My challenge for you this week is to consider how you can make the ride smoother for your colleagues as you work on projects together.

One thought on “Getting others to join the ride”

  1. I can identify with this. Biking is very much a keystone habit for you, as it probably is for your friends. It is for me too, albeit recently. I fell down while I was biking on June 14 and I landed in such a way that it sprained my shoulder. I was the cause of the accident. Pure stupidity, not looking where I was going. Fortunately, I was off-road at the time.

    Ironically, I was on my way to go on a group ride with the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia. This was my first BCP ride, a 20 mile C ride, but on a blistering hot and humid day. My shoulder hurt me intensely. I was able to go home and pop some Advil just before the ride, but I was determined to do it. As luck would have it, the ride’s leader was a retired MD and the guy who volunteered to watch out for slow pokes like me is an ER nurse at Temple Hospital. They encouraged me to do the ride. I did it. Me and my sprained shoulder, and then I ended up in several weeks of PT, but I quickly noticed that biking actually was pain free for my shoulder (assuming no more stupidity).

    Biking is just one of life’s many challenges, all of which have two things in common. The imposition of a barrier and an opportunity to rise above it (or around it). For me, biking is a form of meditation when I go out at night on a quiet trail and listen to an audiobook or some music.

    In fact, I talked a lady friend of mine who lives near me into getting into biking. We started out two weeks ago with her using rental bikes at that place by Lloyd Hall. On Saturday, we picked out a used bike for her at the Neighborhood Bike Works in West Philly and we spent several hours biking together.

    Biking in the city is also fun (and productive), but you do have to be keenly alert. Philadelphia is one of the best cities for commuting to work via bicycle and from what I have heard, more people per capital commute via bicycle in Philadelphia than in any American city. But it helps to know the ins and outs along the way and to avoid biking ON North Broad Street during rush hour.

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