Navigating Career Success is Like Riding a Motorcycle

Posted by on Jul 1, 2011 in Career Management | 20 comments

I learned everything I needed to know about life in kindergarten, and I learned (almost) everything I need to know about my career riding a motorcycle.

Actually, I ride a scooter. My scooter, a light blue 2009 Genuine Buddy 125, with an impressive 125cc engine, is registered as a motorcycle. (Think scooters can’t go very fast? My Buddy 125 can get up to speeds of 70 miles per hour and get 85 miles per gallon! )

cb- genuine buddy 125 scooter

I’m an avid scooterist, riding year-round in Colorado, and riding my scooter is a lot like successfully navigating my career. Riding safely while sharing the road with other vehicles is a lot like working in a corporate environment.

Here’s what I’ve learned about riding and my career success:

Take the road less traveled.
Riding on roads with less traffic allows me to relax and enjoy the ride. I don’t have to fight for my space on the road and there’s often fewer traffic stops, though the actual riding distance may be longer.

In your career there is more than one path to success. Not only do career goals vary from person to person, so does the way to get there. There is more than one way to get where you want go in your career. Consider alternatives paths to achieve your goals. You may be surprised how far you can go by taking advantage of on-the-job training, professional associations, networking, and volunteering for new assignments and projects at work and other non-traditional paths for career development.

Know where you’re headed.
When riding a motorcycle it’s useful to map out a route before you get on your bike and ride. Plan your ride around road construction, rough roads and find the best route to your destination.

Ask yourself some questions about your career. What are your professional goals? What do you want to achieve in your career? If you haven’t decided where you want to go, you’re not likely to achieve career success you want.

Look where you’re going.
One of the first lessons they teach in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course is to look where you want to go. You guide your bike in the direction of your eyes, so keep your head up and go where you’re looking.

The same lesson is true in your career. Look up. Be aware. Watch for opportunities and take advantage of them; be engaged in your career success.

Scan the road ahead.
Smart riders scan the road ahead for changes in the road. It’s important to know what’s ahead of you before you get there so you can adjust your path as necessary.

In your career you can keep your head up and your network engaged so you are alerted to opportunities that may present themselves. Position yourself for maximum career success and adjust your position as needed.

Be courteous.
When I’m riding my scooter I’m sharing the road with other vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. It’s important for my safety to ride courteously and not try to pick a fight with other vehicles because my life is on the line. How I ride is far more important than how others are driving.

When you’re interacting with others in your career, be courteous! Your career is affected by your professional relationships. You don’t have to respond in-kind to bad behavior, and a courtesy is good for your reputation.

When you hit an obstacle, stand up.
When riding a motorcycle and you hit an obstacle in the road you stand up on your bike to avoid being thrown from it. A rider uses their legs to absorb the shock.

If your career throws an obstacle in your path, rise to the occasion. Be the individual that takes responsibility and discovers a solution or solves a problem. A business setback is the perfect opportunity to learn and grow.

What career lessons have you learned from your everyday life?

20 Comments

  1. This is one of my favorite analogies, Chrysta! =) I almost wished you had entitled it “Success is Like Riding a Scooter.” =P And I found myself nodding right away with your first point, especially when you mention how the there’s more than one path to success. We can get so stuck in the typical path of career development, which we see all around us, that we forget about being creative and flexible in the way we approach our goals.

    I also really like your point about scanning the road ahead. It’s so automatic when you’re riding/driving as it should be automatic in our day-to-day lives too. Things just flow so much more smoothly when we anticipate!
    Samantha Bangayan recently posted…“Empires of Gold”: Do Good Dictators Exist?My Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Samantha!

      The idea for this post came to me while I was riding my scooter! No surprise there, I suppose. :) I’m happy another rider could relate to my correlations between riding and career success. I must be on the right track.

      I have gotten where I am today on a non-traditional career path. I know it works because it worked for me. I didn’t have traditional opportunities available to me in my 20s so I created success for myself by a variety of means.

      Scanning the road ahead is also really important because professional situations are constantly changing! Effective professionals are aware of what’s happening and adapting to change. It’s not always easy, but it’s necessary.

      Thanks so much for your great comment! Have a fantastic day!

      Chrysta

  2. Hi Chrysta!

    I really like Your blog design; it is very uncluttered and clean. I am going to start a blog of my grad school experiences and haven’t found a design that grabs me yet. This one is close to what I have in mind!

    I found your site when I did an image search on the Buddy 125. Would you mind sharing where you found that seat cover? I am moving to Sullivan’s Island, SC and would love to “beach out” my ride.

    Thank you and all the best!

    • Thanks for your comment, Jody!

      My scooter seat cover was custom made by scooterseatcovers.com. Unfortunately Crystal at Scooter Seat Covers is no longer making them. There was some buzz on Modern Buddy (www.modernbuddy.com) a while back about some people there making their own. I’ve also seen a few custom scooter seat covers on ebay so that’s another place to check.

      The Buddy is a great scooter, isn’t it? I love mine so much! Good luck finding a seat cover for yours and enjoy the ride!

      Chrysta

  3. Thanks for pointing out this post. Love the picture of your scooter. Looks so cool! Are helmets required in Colorado? In Florida, it’s not. And how long is the drive to work on your scooter? I can imagine in the winter times you really have to bundle up. If it’s 45 degrees outside, riding on the scooter 40-50 mph will make it really cold!

    Great analogy about riding a scooter and career success. Having a destination is so important. If not, we’re just running around in circles, wandering aimlessly just hoping to find something interesting. That’s a horrible way to plan out one’s life!
    Benny recently posted…My First Ebook: Learn the One Sentence that Changed My LifeMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Benny!

      Helmets are not required in Colorado, though I always wear one along with an armored motorcycle jacket, armored gloves and over-the-ankle boots when riding.

      My ride to work is short, only about 2.5 miles! (Close enough I get to scoot home for lunch, too.) My husband regularly commutes 20 miles each way on his scooter, which is where a 125cc or bigger really comes in handy.

      It can get chilly riding in cold weather, my usual guidelines for riding is it has to be at least 30 degrees with dry roads. A few times I’ve ridden in 25 degree weather, and for those rides I bundle up! In the winter I stay warm using handlebar covers and a scooter lap apron- both of which really cut down on the wind chill. I do get a little cold, but the advantage is it build my “hard core scooterist” cred. :)

      I know people with great potential who don’t have a plan and do what they think they are supposed to do, or do whatever comes along. Maybe some people are happy living this life; I certainly wasn’t! My happiness and success comes from the inside, and it requires that I have goals and am making some effort towards those goals, whether or not I achieve them in the end.

      Namaste,
      Chrysta

  4. I, too, love the way your parallel careers and motorcycles.

    So many people start full of energy and hope, determined to make their mark on the world. Then they face the reality of unkind managers, cruel words, missed promotions, unforeseen obstacles and a myriad of
    other situations. Their dreams crumble before the onslaught. I think that this post and your blog helps to prepare, equip and strengthen your readers.
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…Why Pursuit of Happiness Sucks: Myth vs. RealityMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Rachel. I agree it’s easy for workers to get discouraged and start to feel a job is just a job- the thing they dread doing Monday through Friday. I’ve learned I can enjoy work, whether or not I have my dream job or things go my way. My goal is to focus on the lessons I’ve learned and inspire others along the way.

      Chrysta

  5. Glad to connect with another lover of Colorado and motorcycles. Love your website and have subscribed to your feed. Thanks for checking out mine. Happy trails!
    winsomebella recently posted…Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MayhemMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment! When I read your entry comparing riding to life I thought to myself, “ah! a kindred spirit!” I look forward to spending more time on your blog, as well.

      Chrysta

  6. Cute seat……………:).

    Great story and perfect analogy with the business world. There are definitely parallels with charting your course through both.

    When you say Colorado, I’m guessing snow too? That has to be dicey, doesn’t it?

    Thought I’d drop by an say hello. I’ve know you’ve been by my place, I saw you standing off to the side but you never joined the conversation. Hopefully we didn’t scare you off.

    Thanks for sharing and hope you have a great week.

    • Thanks for your comment, Bill!

      Riding year-round isn’t as difficult as you might think. The snow in Colorado melts within a day or two, and the roads are clear at least 50% of the winter. I only ride when the road is dry, so I can ride about half the winter.

      Enjoy your day!

      Chrysta

  7. I never thought a career could be learned from a scooter. I guess you are one of those that can learn from every area of you life. I can so appreciate that.

    • Thanks for your comment, Angela. I find I learn lessons from life every day. It certainly keeps life interesting! What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about life from life itself?

  8. What a cute scooter Chrysta… I can see you riding something like that.

    Love the analogy you used here and it’s so appropriate. I can see the similarities as I kept on reading. If people follow this easy road map here they can definitely be on the right road to success.

    We all know there can be roadblocks as you stated at the end but as long as we keep on moving forward and never let anything stand in our way, we can easily move those out of the way.

    Loved the post and again, really cute scooter. Enjoy your day young lady!

    Adrienne

    • Thanks for your comment, Adrienne!

      I love my little scooter- it is such a fun way to get around. I also love how riding is such a zen experience for me- I feel so connected to the world when I ride because I can really experience the ride. Riding a scooter is not climate controlled, there is no radio, and nothing surrounding me. I am aware of my interaction with those around me and the importance of riding smart! You can’t easily autopilot on a bike nor in a successful career.

      Enjoy your day!

      Chrysta

  9. Found your blog on SITSGirls! I really love it! I’m about to be a new professional, so I think I should learn to love my work :) Thanks for posting!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! After all, that’s what SITS is all about! :)

      I hope you can take some of what I’ve learned as a working professional and use it to love your work-life! I have seen a lot of co-workers through the years treat work like a stressful obligation that’s purpose is to barely fund their lifestyle. I’ve learned a career can be so much more if you choose to focus on the right things and take pride in what you do. A good attitude will also go a long way to get anyone from a foot-in-the-door position to a career they feel truly passionate about. I’m not about to sit around just getting by in life- I want to engage in all areas of my life and live the best life I can.

      I look forward to visiting your blog, too!

  10. First, that pic is something I loved watching and observing about three times..again and again. To me, career success is simple. You decide a mile stone, you keep reviewing it, you create a plan, try to follow it, observe your inabilities, alter faults with qualities and just find success.

    Not that it works all the time. I believe karma exists ;)

    • My scooter is so cute, isn’t she?

      I like your plan for success and I agree that success is an ongoing process. I used to think of success as a result I had to reach before I would be successful, now I realize that success is less about the result of my actions and is instead the action of making a good effort, day in and day out.

      I have this quote hanging on my office wall:

      “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”- Robert Coullier

      Thank you so much for your comment! Enjoy your day!

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