A friend of mine had a motorbike accident last week. He’s OK – as in, he’ll live – but he’s not in a great way. He broke most of the important bones in his upper body – arms, ribs, sternum, both collar bones – and missed breaking his back by millimetres. He’s got icy morning roads, London traffic and a moment of carelessness to thank for a stay in hospital that will last… who knows. Months, maybe.
Here’s the thing, though. This is the friend who has been riding motorbikes for fifteen years, and who had a couple of months booked off work early next year to go and ride the west coast of America.
I’ve been emailing his wife to check in on him, and amidst her general worry and relief that he didn’t kill himself, I mentioned how he must be gutted at having to cancel the America trip – “Oh no,” she replied, “he’s still going on his trip – body permitting”.
This friend has always had a strong sense of purpose. It’s what has made him a great leader in his industry – confidence and drive like his is magnetic, and self assurance and certainty are often lacking in modern workplaces. He has applied those same qualities to his personal life, and so he had decided absolutely that the America trip was happening. A near-fatal motorbike accident was just a blip to him.
It reminded me of something Zig said once – “outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission”.
I think there are two lessons here:
1. Get back on the horse.
This is the obvious one, but it’s important. In direct terms, if something hurts or scares you, don’t run away from it. Overcome the fear that is a natural result of failure. You lost a contract you thought was in the bag to a competitor? Get back out there – offer more, be better. You made a commitment to improve customer care at the cost of prospecting and it’s not worked out? Get back on the horse – keep looking for innovative new ways to use your time, streamline your processes, improve the length or experience of your sales cycle.
In less direct terms, as January has slipped quietly in to February, have a think about the resolutions you made at the beginning of the year. Have you fallen off the horse there too? Get back on it. Missed a week at the gym that you swore you’d go to religiously? Don’t let that be the end of your resolution. Draw a line under that temporary failure and get back to improving yourself.
2. Have a sense of mission.
Call it what you want – a key motivator, an end target, something or someone that you want to be. Work out what is important to you, how you get there, and then do it. Let it drive you, let it give you a sense of purpose, let it become a fundamental part of who you are and what you do.
Have you always wanted to work for yourself? Start making decisions based on that end game – work out what needs to happen for you to get there and start putting wheels in motion. Always wanted to travel more? Always wanted to smash targets, realign expectations and be the best at what you do? Always wanted to settle with a family? Whatever it is, make it your mission, and keep a sense of that mission about you in all your decision making.
Serious motorbike accidents are scary. Really scary. But if this friend of mine can have one, seriously injure himself, spend months in hospital, physio and rehabilitation programmes, and then hop back on his bike and head for Big Sur, then there’s a lot to be said for having a sense of mission. Zig was an outstanding person who knew outstanding people – a sense of mission is important. Find yours.