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How To Overcome Crazy Standards: Motorcycling and Self-Confidence

Dear Lynda,

I’m a fairly competent rider and I’m very well aware of the “ride your own ride” concept.

Sometimes I succeed, but more often than not, I still compare myself to other riders and notice how much slower or less technical I am then some of them; and when there’s no one to compare myself with, I impose crazy standards on myself and then end up being frustrated that I wasn’t as fast or as technical as I expected myself to be. I don’t have this in my personal or professional life, but in motorcycling, I’m a self-doubting mess! What can I do about it?


Dear Anna,

First off, welcome to the club of self-judgers, crazy standards imposers, and all-around tough on ourselves women. Most of us know that we need to ‘ride our own ride’ yet see others who are better and want to be as good as they are. The trick is to use this mindset to your advantage and not as a weapon to constantly see yourself as coming up short.

The key is to begin to use ‘yes and’ rather than ‘yes but.’ When we do the ‘yes, but’ we are forcing ourselves into choosing one position or the other. “I am doing this successfully, but Susie does it so much better.” “I’m grasping some of the technical aspects of this, but I should know it by now,” are a few examples where no matter how accomplished you are, your brain is automatically letting you know you are still falling short. It becomes a debate inside your head, where every time you pick one side, the other pops up to disagree. When you’re in that space, you clearly aren’t ‘riding your own ride,’ you’re riding Susie’s or some other idealized person’s.

What does changing that to ‘yes, and’ look like? “Yes, I am slower than Susie, and I am working on building my skills.” “Yes, I am not as technical as I want to be, and that is inspiring me to keep practicing,” are a few examples. By removing the ‘but’ you are removing the argument. Both can be true. You can feel disappointed that you aren’t where you’d like to be while still feeling satisfied that you are moving in the direction of growth. You can itemize the skills you need to be working on, and focus on what you need to be doing to be successful at them. Susie now becomes an inspiration and a role model while you can pay attention to your own ride. Using disappointment as a motivator, rather than a club, will keep you pushing yourself to improve and keep your head on your bike, not someone else’s.

The other secret is to realize you will never actually arrive at perfection; even Susie knows there is room for constant improvement and there are others who inspire her to keep growing. Riding also has an immediate feedback loop: you know when you get it and when you come up short, and thus it is easy to be self-critical and judgmental. So yes, you may be less accomplished than Susie right now, and, if you are willing to keep practicing, you will probably master the skills that currently frustrate you. The good news is there will then be new ones to tackle…and keep you improving.


Have a question for Lynda? Ask in the comments below!

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1 comment

Lynda 2018 February 2 at 5:15 AM

A friend of mine, with over 1.2 million miles of riding, said we always need to respect the motorcycle. I definitely like that idea, and it keeps motivating me to keep improving.


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