July is my favorite month of the year. Most of my readers, clients, and colleagues know I’m an avid cyclist, and I’ve spent a great deal of my adult life working with cyclists at all levels of competition. From the top of the World Tour ranks – that’s like the NBA, NFL, or MLB for those unfamiliar with pro cycling – to amateur racers to recreational riders, I’ve helped hundreds achieve their cycling goals.
I love July because it’s Tour de France month. I spent years on Le Tour, myself, working with riders to get them through the hardest endurance event in professional sports. I’ve seen the soaring heights of success, the dejection of failure, and the daily struggle to make it to the finish line with only one thought in mind: live to ride another day.
This year I saw something that serves as an object lesson to anyone pursuing a goal at any level, whether it’s physical, mental, or professional.
The Final Push
Here’s the scenario: it was a mountain stage, with a wicked one-two punch mountain-top finish. A young French rider broke away from the lead group on the penultimate ascent. He carved out a lead, but not a huge one. There was a descent, then a final, short climb to the finish. Victory seemed assured. All he had to do was keep it steady, stay within himself, and he’d ride into Tour history.
At the beginning of the final hill, he made a mistake. He upped the pace, and then disaster struck: his legs cramped. For a cyclist, cramps are sheer misery. You’re cruising along, and then suddenly your prime movers – your legs – completely fail.
It could have ended his day, but this kid handled it like a champ.
Yes, he’d made a classic misstep. With his goal in sight, he tried to rush to victory. Then – before a live audience of millions – he righted the ship. I’m not sure if it was innate maturity or advice from his team director, but he did exactly what I advise my clients to do when an important goal is within reach:
- He paced himself until the finish. He paused, shook out his legs, then resumed at a rate that would get him to the finish line first. Not too fast, not too slow: just right.
- He made small adjustments, not sweeping changes. He backed off and found a pace that enabled him to keep his momentum going until the end.
- He calmed down. Many riders in that same situation would have crumbled, but he didn’t. He found a calm inner space, stayed tranquil, rediscovered his flow – and pedaled on to victory.
Now he’s in the record books. A Tour de France stage winner. A hero.
Your goal may not be as dramatic, and your journey may not play out in front of television cameras for all the world to see, but the lesson is still the same: when the finish line is in sight – stay calm, stick to your plan without making major changes, and pace yourself.
That’s how you’ll achieve your goal in the most efficient way possible.