I went on an all-female mountain bike ride the other day. A group of 12 motivated women gathered at our local bike shop and prepared to slog up the hill to the trails. As we climbed, we chatted about each other’s skills and how long we’d been biking, etc. What stuck out to me was how modest every single one of my fellow riders was. Despite being incredible bikers (I saw how good they were), they were extremely humble.
The question I asked myself was why?
What I initially thought was simply a lack of confidence in these women, actually turned out to be their awareness of other people. These women, even though they’d been mountain biking for decades, wanted to identify with the newbies. They wanted to express that even though they were actually that good, they weren’t “that good”. It was an effort to inspire without being overwhelming.
They had been there. They knew what it was like to be intimidated and they wanted to show that if they could do it, we all could do it too.
And it worked. I felt totally included and inspired.
If you don’t happen to have a gaggle of biker babes encouraging you to make the drop, how do you build confidence to get out there and tackle the world?
How do you get out of your own way?
As a professional kiteboarder, I constantly feel like I have to prove myself. Even if I do really well at one competition or get a few truly awesome photos during a photoshoot, that doesn’t matter when it comes time for the next event or next photoshoot. I have to step up and perform again and again.
Training, mental techniques and building confidence all go into performing at a top level. Whether you’re a weekend warrior, have a new sport that you’ve been meaning to try or are a die-hard competitor, building confidence to “get out there” is necessary and one of the baselines that fuels an outdoor lifestyle.
As a competitor, I’ve discovered a few tricks along the way that can help you get out of your head and onto the top of that mountain.
Read on for my top tips for getting out of your own way!
Visualize Your Goal
Your brain is a powerful tool and if you visualize yourself succeeding you are much more likely to do so. Whenever I’m trying to learn a new trick, I spend a lot of time lying on the couch with my eyes closed, visualizing my body going through the motions.
Visualizing is a key factor in setting yourself up for success. Use it to eliminate any doubts in your mind and picture yourself accomplishing your goals. By making the vision stronger then anything that can set you back, you optimize your chances of succeeding. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have to work hard and practice, practice, practice but it is a powerful way to get yourself where you want to me.
See yourself standing at the top of the trail, envision yourself dropping into that wave, visualize success and you’ll be more apt to get there.
Find an Adventure Buddy
You don’t have to have a whole group of mountain bikers cheering you on, but it is super helpful if you can find someone who is at a similar skill level and also motivated to get outside. The best is if they are slightly better than you. That way you’re inspired to keep up with them and try new things but they’re not so good that you can’t even imagine doing what they're doing. (I’ve found this often happens with guys—you feel like you’ll never get anywhere near their skill level and therefore this super cool sport must not be for you).
Just Do It
Nike has it right with this one. The third step to success is to just get out there and try it. Whenever I’m kiting in a new location or attempting something outside of my comfort zone, my stomach is filled with butterflies and my head is filled with doubts. However as soon as I try it the first time, all of those thoughts are replaced with “Aw, that wasn’t so bad.” The hardest part is most often taking the first step and once that’s out of the way, you’ll begin to pick up speed.
Remember Why You’re Out There
Finally, the most important takeaway is remembering why you’re out there in the first place. It can feel scary to try. We all fear failure. But in order to excel at any activity, oftentimes you have to redefine what success means to you. Success doesn’t equate to the number of likes your Instagram photo got. It equates to how you feel. We do these sports and push ourselves because we want to feel a certain way. We want to arrive at the end of the day, bone-tired and sore, our eyes filled with wonder, our minds’ engaged in the present. It truly doesn’t matter how we did compared to others, but how we feel in our bodies.
Feelings of inadequacy will always be there if you’re comparing yourself to others. Keep your eyes on your own paper.
At the end of that mountain bike ride, all of the ladies filtered back down to the mountain bike shop and a round of beers was poured. Everyone had dirt on her faces and helmet hair. We had conquered that ride and come back full of stoke and confidence. Not once did I hear one of the seasoned women talk about herself. Instead the focus was on the newbies. It was all cheers, encouragement and “You did it!”
Women are pretty rad like that.