I have been consciously working on looking at the positive outcomes of my bicycle accident (now over 7 weeks ago!); lots of glass half full type stuff. This gets easier every day as my body continues to heal and bounce back at an amazing rate. It’s probably normal stuff — this isn’t some super-human tale! Since my initial expectations were so low after the accident, the fact that I can actually ride my bicycle again right now is just amazing to me.
On some level this recovery trajectory has really been one of the biggest reasons why keeping a positive outlook has become easier: it’s hard to be down when lots of things are pointing the way up.
Finding the Silver Linings
That’s not to say that all signs point to the easier, or higher road. It’s easy to walk through a day, week or even a life with gloom-filled glasses on, missing out on all the incredible things that go on around us. We’ve all woken up on the wrong side of the bed. And we know people who spend seemingly every day of their lives focusing on what hasn’t happened instead of what can.
I think that being able to focusing on what CAN happen is an incredibly powerful skill.
The Rebuilding Process
One of the really cool things about coming back has been the opportunity to rebuild myself from the ground up as an endurance athlete. I’ve only been away from the game for about 7.5 weeks now, which is not a long time when you step back far enough. But in terms of where my fitness was at the time of the accident and where I am at right now, I’m still a long way away from that level.
Since my season is effectively over, this is an opportunity for me to re determine how I want to approach my fitness. There’s no schedule, there’s no pressure. I’ve been working with my physical therapist on some fundamental building blocks, such as core strength and flexibility, things that I’ve been ignoring for a long time.
But as I mentally sketch out a plan to get back to running, and become a better cyclist, there’s something missing. The who I am right now, after the crash, is fundamentally different that who I was before. The recovery process has given me the chance to reconnect with my family and friends, and to learn a great deal about who I am as a person, not just as an athlete. Simply going back to basic goals around physical fitness, as important as activity is to me, almost feels like an emotional step back on some level.
The Really Big Question
We all have the capacity to come back from our accidents. In fact, we all have the capacity to change who we are at any point in time. Accepting this, then it ultimately comes down to one….big…question: Who do you want to be?
In some ways, that exercise is more challenging than physical therapy, or re-learning how to walk. It requires patience to reflect, vision to project, and ultimately the focus and ability to connect that future vision with your daily reality.
I understand that stretching 30 minutes a day will get me back to being more flexible, and that’s great. But it begs the question: where else can I put 30 minutes a day to make something really great happen? Something that captures the changes I have experienced and makes them part of the new person that’s evolving?
I personally am starting to look beyond “what’s next” and am focused more on “what’s possible?” As Derek Sivers wrote last year: “No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no.”
The Real Challenge
While I’m reminded daily of the power of the human body to change I have also learned that the true challenge lies in the strength of your mind.
The power to envision a positive change, despite what fills your world, and to start working towards that outcome every day.
Some people call them silver linings, those hints of positivity that allow you to stare at that big cloud of doom without flinching. I think they are everywhere; it’s just that we look a whole lot harder in the bad times to find them.
The secret to finding them isn’t in some fancy set of glasses; it’s in realizing that each of us carries our own silver linings inside us. It typically takes a crisis or problem to make us reach for them for support, but I think we don’t need to wait that long. I think looking inwards to find our silver-lining-capacity and putting that to action today, and every day, will go a long way to making each of us into a better person.
So, the next time you think about losing 20 pounds or getting fitter or getting faster, I want you to think a little bit about what it is you’re creating. You are more than a project. You’re a piece of art. It’s up to you to determine what it is you want to be. Once you understand what it is you want to be, only then can you really begin to create a means of shaping your desired outcome.
Good luck to you in your next steps. I will keep you posted on mine.