Project242 (P242) is my journey to bike 242 miles in 24 hours, across the state of Minnesota on gravel roads, in August, 2021 (the Day Across MN, or the DAMN). I’ve found many lessons experienced riding a bike can be applied to our careers. In these posts, I will share the correlations.
“Well, this ain’t gonna be good.”
For whatever reason, I found this thought humorous as my ass continued its upward trajectory while my head got ever closer to the ground. It had all happened so quickly, I didn’t even have time to let a couple colorful metaphors come out. However, my mind was seeing all this play out in slow motion.
It was 5:45 AM. Between the street lights and the sunrise peeking up in the East, I thought I had a pretty good view of the road in front of me. But, what I missed was the slightest gap in the concrete that was just wide enough for my front tire to fall into. As the concrete came back together, it pinched my front tire and stopped it cold, sending me up and over the handle bars.
I don’t know the exact speed, but it was somewhere in the mid teens (in mph, though I’m sure I’d slowed a little before the back tire came up and over). I kept my hands on the bars and as the ground came up to meet me, my aero bars, which stick out about 16 inches, hit the ground first and somehow caused the bike to deflect right, avoiding a direct hit to the ground. I put my hand out to soften the blow and SMASH!, landed on my right side and skid a few feet. Thankfully the concrete road was new and smooth, so my hope was for minimal road rash.
Status check. Fingers, toes, arms, leg, neck, and back all moved. The back tire on my bike was still spinning, so I wasn’t knocked out for any length of time. I could move to a crouch. Good start. Then stood. Even better. Next, picked my bike up. How in the world did my front tire not get bent?
Seeing no damage to me and only scuffs on the bike, I assessed my ego took the biggest hit. Did anyone see me? As I write this three days post-crash, I’m a little sore here and there, but otherwise I’ve ridden the past couple of days. Back in the saddle!
This crash reminds me of my first project failure, which has been the largest of my career. In a company of 17,000, I missed identifying a New Product Development (NPD) team of four. This four person team had the power to pinch my project and have it terminated. A $2M sunk cost! That was a really bad crash in my career. First, I was lucky to have kept my job. Second, I never wanted to run another project again. That crash gave me some lumps I didn’t know if I could get over.
Thankfully, I had an amazing boss who assigned me to another project within a week. It was a small project, just a few thousand dollars, but its success gave me the confidence to keep going in this career. Without that, who knows what direction I would have gone!
Since that first $2M crash, I’ve had a few other project failures. This includes completed projects that bombed in the market or internally to the company, terminated early, and got done but not to scope and way over budget. Each of these has been a learning opportunity. Regardless if I had influence over these of not, dwelling on them doesn’t help. Learn and move on. Get back in the saddle and keep going!!
Crashes are going to happen. Whether riding your bike, or leading an initiative, eventually something bad will happen. Remember, it’s a snapshot in time and doesn’t last forever. Learn from it. Brush off, and keep going! Good luck.