What My Peloton Has Taught Me About Leadership
Do you remember that feeling of excitement before the first day of school, your favorite holiday, or a major milestone event in your life? The kind of excitement that keeps you up at night?
That was me recently when I joined the #onepeloton family. The night before delivery I could barely sleep. I also woke up early on the day it was supposed to be delivered and I am NOT an early riser. Clearly, I was pretty ecstatic but those feelings wore off after my very first 20 minute ride. It was so hard! But guess what? I love this thing. Whether it's getting directly on the bike for cycling for 45 minutes or launching the app for running or meditation, I'm diehard #teampeloton.
Over the past few days, I realized there were numerous parallels to my fitness journey via the Peloton and my journey to becoming a better leader. And no, this is not a sponsored post.
Here are four lessons my Peloton experience has taught me about leadership:
1. Every time I get on the bike, I want to perform better than the last time. This requires me to go back through my history and spend some time reflecting. What was my highest output yesterday? Can I increase this today?
The Leadership Lesson: Do not overlook the role reflection plays in improvement. How do I know what I need to or want to accomplish today without thinking through and reviewing the details from days prior?
2. I spent a lot of money on the bike upfront and I had to add a new line item to my monthly budget to cover my membership. Because of this, I decided I needed to set some goals. I purchased the bike because I want to improve my endurance and athleticism, improve my heart health, and drop a few pounds in the process. I could not convince myself (or my husband for that matter) to spend that kind of money and not be concrete with my goal setting. It would have been easy for me to say “oh I’ll just ride when my schedule allows” (because that would have surely ended up with me choosing the couch, Netflix, and snacks). Instead, I had to set some firm goals for myself.
The Leadership Lesson: Set clear goals and expectations. In our leadership roles, whether we are a manager for a team of 5 or 15, a teacher of a classroom of 30 students, or mentor of a cohort of 10 graduate students, we have to set clear expectations and defined goals. It’s easy to say “I’ll ride a few times a week” but it is better if I say “I will ride a minimum of 4 times a week.”
3. It’s really hard to zone out during a ride or a workout. Trying to focus on my goals, the task, and my effort, the workouts take a lot of focus. The trainer is trying to motivate me while also giving directions. At any given moment, they will tell me I need to increase my resistance or my cadence, or stand up out of the saddle for second or third position. I have yet to zone out thinking about what I will eat for dinner or the errands I need to run on Saturday because of my focus and intentionality during the workout.
The Leadership Lesson: Being present in the moment matters and is necessary. If I am not paying attention to my instructor, I will likely miss a key piece of the workout. The same applies in my workplace. Focused attention and clearly listening not only go a long way in my workouts, they also go along way with my team.
4. I did my first Tabata ride with Tunde a few days ago. I signed on for the ride because I was quite confident that I could complete a 15 minute workout despite the difficulty being ranked 8.5 out of 10. The playlist looked good, I was clipped in, and I pressed start. This was the hardest 15 minutes ever! However, one of the things I noticed was Tunde did not ask anything of me during the ride that she was not asking from herself. I saw her push, sweat, grunt, and be as equally grateful for the recovery time as I was.
The Leadership Lesson: Be collaborative not authoritative. Collaboration is a critical leadership competency. Tunde did not sit on her bike telling me what to do during the ride. She did it WITH me. Strong leaders set the example for those they serve.
Like these illustrations from one of the newest members who “drank the Kool-Aid” and purchased a Peloton, leadership lessons are all around us. Be coachable, try new things, keep practicing, clip in, and enjoy ride.
Want more leadership tidbits like this? Check out this book: Trust the Process: A Five Step Model to Becoming an Everyday Leader
Cross-published on LinkedIn on 8/11/21