Date: October 30, 2009

Author: JT

Tags: ,


Motorcycling, Leadership, & Life

Motorcycling can be an incredibly social activity. The experience, as an individual or group, provides innumerable life experiences. One of my favorites is sitting on the veranda, enjoying a cool beverage, after a long day’s ride. Over the years, I have collected a number of great motorcycling quotes and wisdom. What’s interesting is how well they cross over from a largely recreational activity into the regular world.

200 mph, no hands. Damn that’d be cool right before the part where you die.” A. Duthie

When was the last time you ran at the speed of light? When was the last time you thought about what you or your organization might achieve? When did you last allow yourself to day dream and think, ‘…what if…’

There are only three sports: mountain climbing, bull fighting, and motor racing. All the rest are merely games.” Ernest Hemingway

Personally I’ve taken this to equate to, how much of my life have I been actively engaged in at times, as opposed to just going through the motions. Is life a game where you simply keep score, without any other meaning? Or do you elect to challenge yourself daily, pushing to see what’s possible, living where life has meaning?

Got a $5 head? Get a $5 helmet.

As a motorcyclist, what’s more to say?

Everyone knows Honda’s attitude in the GP Paddock! “Who will be behind us this weekend?” More a sentiment than a quote, it certainly does alter the way you might look at your own situation.

Only a Biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.

When was the last time you really got out of your office (cube, box, cave, dungeon, cellar…) and tried looking at things from someone else’s (your customers’?) perspective? You just might find the wind in your face is quite stimulating!

“There’s something ugly about a NEW bike on a trailer.”

At some point, you’ve got to take it out for a ride. “Some riders crash. Some get back on. Some can’t.” It’s life. But if you never try, if you only wait for sunny days, you’ll never know what it really means to live!

“If the bike isn’t braking properly, you don’t start by rebuilding the engine.”

We’ve all seen organizations start by rebuilding the engine. It can feel good. You’re getting something done. You can show off your handy work. But you’ve still not fixed the problem.

“Winter is Nature’s way of telling you to polish.”

Ok, so the current economy right now might just plain suck. It happens. Are you letting your place rust? Or are you using the down time to look forward, try and brush up skills (even if only through self-training)? One thing is for sure, no one wants to use the first nice day of the new season to do their polishing—they want to be out riding!

“I’ve had the best of times, and the worst of times, on a motorcycle.” Dan Kohls

My friend sums its up beautifully. The motorcycle’s (not just a metaphor, for me) your life. Sometimes it’s 40 degrees, raining, and you’re downright cold. It makes you really appreciate those 75 degree days, the sun setting, and autumn foliage glowing all about you.

Go Ride…your life!

6 Responses to “Motorcycling, Leadership, & Life”

  • Robert Moskowitz November 1, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Thanks for this.

    I have always loved the $5 head slogan. It’s from Bell Helmets, and by the time I got to it, it was up to $10. But it still applies to life as well as to helmets. That’s why this whole internet emphasis on “bidding” to get work is a non-starter for me.

    As to the “worst of times” thing, there was a moment last year, rush hour, rain, cold, crosswinds, splitting lanes trying to make an appointment 40 miles across town, when I said to my self “WTF am I doing here?” But the appointment was important, and would have been impossible to get to on four wheels. I made it, and I look back at that experience and feel good about my ability to accomplish difficult tasks under adverse conditions. Since it didn’t kill me, it made me stronger.

    Keep riding.


    • JT November 2, 2009 at 3:04 pm

      Hi Robert,

      Smiled as I read your worst of times story. This is just the sort of thing I had in mind:).


  • Phil Potzka November 2, 2009 at 9:03 am

    “Keep the shiny-side up!” is a parting statement I like to say to friends who ride bikes as well. It is good lesson in life as well. Not only to avoid getting injured or worse but to remain optimistic every day. Being positive is contagious and so is SMILING. Instead of laying back in you easy chair watching or reading all the bad news being broadcast on TV or the newspaper, hit the road on your Harley and “forget about it”. Smell the fresh air and see the beautiful country we live in for a few hours. It is the best natural high you can get.

    • JT November 2, 2009 at 3:05 pm

      Hello Phil,

      You’re quite right. Smiling is important if you want folks to feel comfortable approaching you (a stranger) when stopping somewhere on a road trip. And, yes, I think it does tend to support a more optimistic view of things.


  • Jill Freeman November 3, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    I love the analogies between life and riding. Here’s my favorite message…I hope it will be on my headstone.

    “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming WOW – What a ride! anonymous

    Thanks for the thought-provoking article. I’ve added you to my favorites. – Jill

    • JT November 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm

      Hello Jill,

      Thank you for your kind words, I’m flattered. I also appreciate you sharing your own favorite quote.


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