I was recently on a bike ride in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. As I pushed myself up the mountain and along the gravel and hard packed trails I found myself grinning. Sure the ride left me huffing and puffing and I was certainly not as fast as the person I went with, but I was having fun. I didn’t know how much time we were out there until I looked at my watch when I came home. How much? Two hours, which included loading and unloading the bikes as well as traveling to and from the trail. Actual time on the trail was just under 50 minutes.
Not a bad amount of time, but what made it great for me was that it pushed me just enough to make it a challenge while still providing enough micro experiences of exhilaration on the downhills to make it enjoyable as well. There were technical challenges on both the up and down sections and there was enough of a break between those sections that I felt confident but I could also see there was a lot of room for improvement. The person I went with was always a long way ahead of me and waited for me at critical points along the way. As I saw him fly down the trail and then looked at myself and how I handled those parts of the same trail I realized what was the major difference between the two of us: confidence.
My friend was much more confident in his ability to navigate the trail. Much more confident in his equipment and in his skills. All of his confidence came from practice, experience and a willingness to take risks over time. As I watched him and reflected on my own experience I realized there was more here than just proficiency with mountain biking.
The same could be said related to just about anything in our lives.
The more time we spend with a particular set of problems, tools or skills, the better we become with them. We become better in programming, better at accounting, better at dealing with people and marketing, better in business and relationships. Over the last couple years I have grown and expanded in ways I did not consider just five years ago. I have become a different person and it has been because I have found ways to take risks, confront challenges and to take feedback when needed.
One of the keys to this progress has been in finding a subject I was intent on learning and growing in and then putting in the time and effort in order to become good at them. The same could be said for you as well. I expect that the times when you have progressed the most have been those times when you were engaged in the topic and were willing to pay the price to get better. The trick is in finding the joy in pushing ourselves on the way to mastery as we improve each day. Making the most of challenges and taking pleasure in micro experiences is what brings happiness and joy.
We strive to take joy in the journey.
And that is what life is really all about.
Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash.