“The wind has its reasons. We just don’t notice as we go about our lives”
As a recreational bicyclist who likes to go hard at it and reach for new levels despite the protests of my middle-aged body, I’m frequently reminded of the seeming inequity of the wind. What I’ve noticed is that on a windy day, the negative, hampering effects of the wind are acutely noticeable during 75% of a ride. Indeed, a direct headwind can be soul crushing and the nuisance of a stiff cross-breeze can prevent the best cyclists from establishing their natural rhythm. Maddening.
And then there’s the tailwind. Ah, sweet tailwind. Its physical benefits are irrefutable; when riding with the effects of a tailwind, we are faster and far more likely to feel like we’re in the zone. Beautiful.
Yet what I’ve noticed over the years on the bike is that I am far more acutely aware of the effects of the “negative” winds than I am of the lifting, carrying forces of the tailwind. Naturally, as a coach I began to question what’s behind this phenomenon and to explore its implications. At one level, it makes complete sense to me that we should notice adversity more than we notice aid; it’s forever been a fundamental part of the human condition to heed and remember threats. A design element that’s been critical to our survival.
I am fascinated by the tension that emerges at the intersection of “the way we are wired” and “the ways we’ve agreed to behave.” The world we now live in is far safer and more civilized (at least for readers of this post) than the life-threatening world for which our brains were designed, and we no longer need to be so imbalanced in our ratio of noticing threats to noticing opportunities. The modern implication of this ancient design is what’s known as Attribution Error. To oversimplify, it’s our tendency to attribute our own good fortune to character traits while dismissing our misfortune to forces outside of our control. And to reverse it when making sense of the successes and failures of others. Quite a powerful force that distorts our view of the world.
We would all be well served to increase our noticing and appreciation of the forms and forces that lift and carry us. Don’t let the tailwind go unnoticed. Identify and thank the people behind you who are contributing to your sense of rhythm, flow, and speed.