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365 Ways to Start Over: Day #35 – Don’t Let Go of the Handle Bars, Get Off the Bike

When I was young I was never the most coordinated kid in the neighborhood. My friends could skip two ropes at a time, do splits, ride a bike with no hands, and touch their palms to the ground when I couldn’t even touch my toes. That was ok with me because I was a fast swimmer – an activity that required discipline, endurance and strength all of which I could build with practice. No matter how many times I tried to touch my toes I never got better at it. But if I practiced swimming, I improved. I chose the stroke nobody wanted to do because I stood a better chance of winning. I was eventually voted captain of the team and a leader at butterfly.

The truth is that some of my friends on the swim team never really improved at the pace of others no matter how much they practiced the strokes. This was hard for many of their parents to realize. For some kids it was more rewarding to practice the agility activities of gymnastics, cheerleading, and dancing. For others it was more gratifying to excel at debate, chess or analytical problem solving.

The lesson in all of this is to focus on your strengths and chose activities where you can play to your strengths. If you are going to take risks, take them in an area where you are already a star. What’s the worst that can happen? You fail? Failure holds lessons. Fail early and start something new by applying your strengths with what you have learned. Why work on the things at which you can only achieve mediocrity? If you get better at them you will only be a little better than mediocre. If you focus on things at which you truly excel, you will lead and shine.

If you can’t become an expert at what you are doing, switch to something at which you can apply your strengths. If you don’t know what your strengths are, start by making a list of all the things you enjoyed as a child. Then add what you would do if you had four hours to yourself and how you dealt with the most difficult challenge in your life.

So don’t let go of the handle bars if you are not a strong cycler. Get off the bike and onto something better. Start now!

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Mary Lee Gannon is the president of Gannon Group – an executive coaching and consulting firm that produces higher individual and organizational performance through Executive Leadership Coaching, Organizational Development, Board Retreats, Visioning, and Planning. Mary Lee’s personal turnaround came as a stay-at-home mother, with four children under seven-years-old, who endured a divorce that took she and the children from the country club life to public assistance from where within a short time she worked up to the level of CEO. Her book “Starting Over – 25 Rules for When You’ve Bottomed Out” is available in bookstores or at Amazon. Get her FREE ebook – “Grow Productivity – A Leader’s Toolbox” on her web site at www.StartingOverNow.com.