Some of the best teachers I’ve had in life have been indoor cycling instructors. No, they didn’t teach me how to read or write or speak a foreign language, but they did implant in me some important life lessons. They reminded me to be the best version of myself. They gave me a short, psychological boost when I needed it most. But mostly, they reminded me that not every day is a perfect day, and the goal is progress, not perfection.
So, what pithy lessons do I now have to share with you? Read on.
Life Lesson #1: Success takes patience.
I know that saying that success takes patience may not sound motivation during a cycling class, but when you’re seven minutes into a climbing class and your legs start to protest, you need to step back and see the bigger picture. Success takes patience. You’re likely reading this because you’re a college student. Perhaps you’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Perhaps you’re pursuing a master’s degree or beyond. You’ve invested a lot of time and energy in your education or you’re about to invest a lot of time and energy in your education. Regardless, you are living proof that success takes patience. There are no two ways about it. You’ve simply got to roll up your sleeves and do the work. You’ve got to do the reading, the writing, the group projects, the discussions, the whatever to get that piece of paper acknowledging your efforts. But the path to success doesn’t stop there. You’re going to get the piece of paper, but life will throw more lessons your way. You’ve got to keep going one step at a time and remember that success takes patience.
Life Lesson #2: You’re not the same person every day.
It’s easy when you’re in a fitness routine to compare one day to the next, but such comparisons must be done in context. It may sound weird to say that you are not the same person every day, but it’s true. Some days, you’re tired. Some days, you’re on your period. Some days, you’re on top of the world. Some days, you’re just there. Those things are all okay, but we must recognize that not every day is filled with the success of the prior day. We may not meet each day with peak performance. We may not find the right words to say at the right time. We may lose a client. We may lose a friend. Life is simply not static, and luckily, the person we are today will not be the person we are 10 years from now. We will continue to grow— maybe slowly. We will continue to change and to hopefully be better versions of ourselves, but we must recognize along the way that the path forward isn’t always a straightforward path of perfection. We are not the same person every day.
Life lesson #3: Nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone.
The lesson that nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone is one that I repeat to myself quite often. Think about it: heading off to college was way out of your comfort zone. You left behind family and friends, but then great things happened. You learned new things. You met knew friends. You returned home a changed person. That was a big step outside of your comfort zone. When you venture off into the world of work, that will be another move outside your comfort zone. After that, however, it may be easy to fall into comfortable patterns and become a permanent member of the comfort zone. Nothing great happens in your comfort zone. Continue to challenge yourself to get outside of your comfort zone. That’s where real change and growth will occur.
And, no, it won’t be comfortable. I can fully attest to that right now as I sit in my master’s classes with people who know way more about the subject matter than I do, and I have to offer up meaningful dialogue as part of the class. I’m very uncomfortable. But I know that I have a goal, and to get to that goal, I must suffer the humiliation of not knowing what I’m doing while trying to stumble through my classes. So, while it takes more effort than hanging out in your comfort zone, continue to challenge yourself to try and learn new things. Never eaten sushi? Try it. Never spoken a foreign language? Enroll in lessons. Never cooked for yourself? Take a class. Try at least one new thing every year to keep yourself from settling in your comfort zone.
In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be sitting at my desk, squirming uncomfortably because I have another Microteach lesson to prepare.