Two weekends ago, Greg and his racing partner, Chad, competed and won the difficult Storm the Trent adventure race. Chad called Greg earlier this week to let him know he had managed to secure them a spot in another race coming up in two weeks. So, when Greg woke up to a nice day on Wednesday morning, he thought he should get in a ‘quick training ride’ on his mountain bike. Cara was away at a conference, so Greg set his Garmin watch so she, Jim, and I could ‘view his live activity’. We decided this would be a good idea a couple of years ago realizing that sometimes when he goes out training, he is gone for hours, sometimes to remote locations and it only made sense for us to be able to see where he was and if he was still moving!
Of course, on Wednesday, I hadn’t yet roused myself to check his live feed. Having been on a long ride myself the day before I had been treating myself to a sleep in; my alarm wasn’t set to go off until 6:30.
The fog in my brain disappeared instantly as Greg’s not-so-normal voice said, ‘I’ve had a crash on my bike. I’m sure I’ve broken my collarbone’.
Mountain bike crashes rarely happen in convenient locations. By the time we were talking, Greg had already navigated locating the bike he’d been hurled from, got to a stand, sat back down to avoid passing out, figured out a plan, walked himself and his bent bike out of the forest to the nearest highway, called his in-laws and was sitting by the side of the road trying to manage the shock and pain while he waited. Calling us was part of what he knew he needed to occupy his mind while the time ticked away.
I kept up a conversation with him for about 30 minutes at which point a thoughtful motorist, a teacher, stopped and stayed the final twenty or so minutes with him as Sharon, his mother-in-law, made the, what likely seemed much longer but in fact was, the 50ish minute, drive to get to him.
These moments, these heart-stopping, breath-stealing moments find each of us sometime in our lives.
As Greg was taken to the hospital, and I awaited the next bit of news I thought about moments in my life. Moments of crisis, surprise or acknowledgement are easy to pinpoint. I could find some of these in my memory bank. But I tried to recall other moments; the moment when I had finally felt confident on my bike, or the moment when I knew I had the skills to be an effective facilitator, or the moment I became the mother I wanted to be. I could remember none of these. Because, of course, these never were moments. They were bits of life, on a continuum evasive to pin down.
I was thinking about how Greg handled his situation on Wednesday morning. The crash, clearly, was a moment. But the way he handled it did not magically form in one moment. He was able to navigate the crisis because of the little steps he has put in place throughout his life. Greg doesn’t panic when his plans have a small wrench thrown in them. He doesn’t get mad when things don’t turn out how he expects. He isn’t angry when other people or things do not meet his expectations. When he finds himself at the airport facing a long delay or a cancelled flight, he simply figures out his best course of action. By practicing dealing with unexpected circumstances with integrity and in a way he is proud of, he has built the muscles he can call upon in real moments of crises.
We don’t wake up and suddenly become something in a moment. I didn’t become confident on my bike at one particular moment. I built confidence ride over ride. I didn’t have a baby placed in my arms and suddenly become the mother I wanted to be. I built the skills day after day, month after month. Titles, like president, or mother, or team leader, might arrive in a moment, but the being of a mother, or a president, or a leader is built step by step, decision after decision, day upon day. Overnight music stars, it turns out, are not so overnight after all.
Neither are most of the things we become.
I’ve come to the conclusion we do not control our moments. What we do control is every step leading up to them, and our behaviour after them. If we sit and wait for just the right moment to become who we hope to be or to have an opportunity to do exactly what we’d dreamed of, the truth is the moment may pass so quickly we cannot grab hold of it. I’m guessing these moments fly by in about the same amount of time it took for Greg to fly over his handlebars in the forest.
Greg had no way of knowing one of his moments would arrive at 5:30am on Wednesday morning. And yet, he had spent his whole life gathering and honing the skills it would take him to navigate such a moment.
Each of us has moments, good, bad, demanding, and celebratory, coming our way. We cannot possibly see them coming. Our challenge is to set ourselves up, by miniature steps of practice, to be fully prepared to seize the moment when it catches the front wheel of our bike.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What will most help me prepare for my moment?’
Afterward: Greg is scheduled for surgery this coming Wednesday. The collarbone, currently in three or four pieces will be put back together and held in place by a large plate extending the full length of the bone. He is expected to make a full recovery and be back doing all the things he loves by the end of summer. I am so grateful that his surgeon is ready for this moment.
Elizabeth is a certified, professional Life and Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to prepare for your moments.