Photo - Ned Overend
It was over 8 years ago at the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Race League fundraiser event when I received a shot in the arm that was almost as exhilarating as my recent Covid vaccination shot. I was approaching 50 years old and wondering if my competitive years as a cyclist were officially behind me. I often struggled to suppress the words I would hear my father say during his waning athletic years as an older man – “I’m getting too old for this.”
On stage stood Ned Overend, the keynote speaker at the fundraiser event. Ned was a six-time cross-country mountain bike national champion and first-ever cross-country mountain bike world champion. He was 57 years old at the time of the keynote interview and was still racing at the professional level against guys half his age. When asked how he was able to still compete at an age when most professionals would have hung it up for the leisurely ride with their grandkids, Ned’s response was simple – “I never let ‘doubt’ enter my thoughts about whether or not I should still compete. If my body is still able to compete, then I do.”
Wow! That simple. I thought to myself at that moment, if someone in his late 50s can still compete against the top mountain bike professionals in our country, then there is no reason why I cannot continue to push my limits.
It is interesting how this mindset can affect one’s ability to succeed in business. Self-doubt can be the number one saboteur in a professional’s career. Thoughts such as “I am too young to be a successful revenue-contributor to my firm.” or “I am too old to shift my practice in a different direction.” are common limiting thoughts that can be corrected if doubt is taken out of the equation.
Some of you might think “Easier said than done, Doug”, but I would challenge you on this. The mind is very powerful, and it can work for you or against you. Start thinking about the times you have doubted yourself and what might have happened if you took doubt out of the equation and just went for it. Whether it was reaching out to an important prospective client for the first time, or changing your business pursuits to what you are truly passionate about; what would that look like?
Changing a half-empty to a half-full mindset does not always happen overnight, but there is no better time to start than now.
I was fortunate to have listened to someone on stage 8 years ago who changed the way I look at life today. Shortly after Ned’s interview, when I hit 50 years old, I resurrected my mountain bike racing and started traveling around the world competing in multiple-day cross-country mountain bike races. A couple of years later I started my own consulting practice that is thriving today. Although my mountain bike racing stopped shortly after I married the love of my life and we started a family that now includes two kids, I still move forward in life with the intent of not letting doubt get in the way of my pursuits.
Whether or not you have a hero in your life who motivates you, try not to underestimate your abilities to succeed and overcome those thoughts filled with doubt. Life is too short to not push yourself and see what you can still achieve.