Quarter Turn to the Right

Today’s blog post is by Lisa Johnson.

Twice a week I participate in an indoor cycling class. We use bikes that have monitors to report your RPMs (pace), elapsed time and mileage. However, the tension is not monitored or controlled electronically. It’s all by feel. How hard I choose to pedal is completely dependent on how I feel that day. We can safely say that some days I pedal harder than others and that the same tension setting one day feels easy and another day feels like it might kill me. But, I digress.

As you might expect, the workout starts with a tension setting ‘1’. As we go, the instructor directs us to add a quarter turn to the right which puts the tension at a ‘2’. Another quarter turn to the right and I’m at ‘3’. You get it. The workout includes ‘climbs’ where you start at ‘1’ and then add a quarter turn to the right to move up gradually to 2, 3, and 4. 

For me, the change from ‘1’ to ‘2’ usually isn’t that noticeable. I can still keep my pace pretty steady with that change. Moving from ‘2’ to ‘3’, I notice a little more. I slow down a bit but can still stay within the target range that the instructor shouts out over the music. I start having to think more about my form. I remind myself to relax the shoulders, push and pull with both feet, keep the core tight. Then we go another quarter turn to the right. Now we’re at ‘4’ and I feel like I’m pushing uphill into a stiff Iowa wind. I wonder why the instructor hates me. My pace slows. A lot. I have to pedal harder, pushing and pulling to keep the pace. What am I thinking getting up at 5:00 am to do this? A ‘4’ is hard. I hate cycling class.

Then the downhill. The instructor shouts out to turn the tension down to a ‘3’. Ahhhh. Relief. Oh yeah, I can do a ‘3’ for a long time. Which is funny, because earlier ‘3’ was getting tough. Why is it that ‘3’ feels better on the way down than on the way up?

What’s my point? The other day, as I rode like a hamster in a wheel hating on the class, I started thinking about how the tension on my bike is like tension in my life and work. 

The pace of life and work essentially operate the same way. When things are easy (1 or 2), I can cruise along nicely. I’m feeling pretty good about the progress I’m making. I’m knocking out the miles and getting things done. But, when life or work cranks to a ‘3’, I start to notice. I have to pay closer attention so I don’t miss something. When I hit a ‘4’ and stay there for too long, something has to give. I’m pushing and pulling on the bike to stay in motion.

Then, something happens to set me back to a ‘3’. A deadline passes and a project closes. Or, help appears. Suddenly ‘3’ feels like something I can handle for a while. Ahhhh. Relief.

I think we need to remember that as we work with our teams. We need to remember as we are delegating or evaluating workload that, like you, everyone else is also on their bike and the tension settings are different from one bike to the other. What might be your ‘1’ is possibly my ‘2’. People can only add so many ‘quarter turns to the right’ and ride at a ‘3’ or ‘4’ for so long before they need to turn off some of the tension.

Before you make another ‘quarter turn to the right’, consider if a quarter turn to the left for a short recovery time might help prepare you for the next climb.

Continue leading the Interstates Way!
Scott Peterson


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