Psssst. Insider information!
The wisest advice I ever received 4 years ago from a high school buddy: Focus on where you want to be NOT on what you want to avoid. I had to get back with him on the value of that advice a year later when I tackled the same off road triathlon. He was perfectly correct! Sound advice not only for anyone who mountain bikes, but for everyone across the board. For some reason, when mountain biking, focusing on the rock or the tree leads to a direct collision.  Question: when we divert attention toward non-evidence based practices, what impact does that have on us and the profession?

Just because you are on a path doesn’t mean it will be without challenges.  The challenges can feel overwhelming with patients, referrers, payers and even within yourself.  If we skate through our professional life without challenges, what does that say about our expertise?

Immediate feedback on decisions improves skill. By the end of a 3 hour trail, I am far more skillful. I believe the improvement is due to the continual immediate response to the decisions I made – like go between the rocks or go over the rock? Low gear or high gear? Go through the puddle or not? Do we appreciate the impact of positive and negative feedback? (I believe one reason our profession as a whole doesn’t embrace evidence is because of the lack of immediate feedback or hardly any feedback at all on our actual clinical performance.) No feedback = no improvement.

Failure… The general rule for me: the result of a trail = biting it at least once OR come very, very close to failing. Failure affects us emotionally – either with tears or with laughter. Failure give us stories to share. Most importantly, failure provides us an opportunity to learn. For those of you who have failed: cheers! Did you learn from it? How did it change you professionally?

Fear… Thursday I had pent up fear. My best nephew in the whole wide world wanted to try a new trail – on the map it looked long. I had envisioned steep elevations…. I had envisioned biting it on the rocks and having some injury… and then with no cell service, what’s the bestnephew in the whole wide world to do when I’m immobile? I am awesome at immediately talking myself out of a trail before I even begin it! The whole fear of the unknown thing combined with imagination – how often do we mentally do that to ourselves? How often does the worst thing imaginable actually happen? Professionally, what is the worst imaginable thing that could happen?

Implementing evidence isn’t for the weak of heart. The 5 key points I learned while mountain biking are just as relevant when it comes to evolving oneself clinically and implementing evidence: Focus on where you want to be; expect challenges; strive for immediate feedback; learn from failures and overcome your fears.