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Know Your Terrain

DSC_0068 This summer, I decided exercise needed to be my focus. I had been eyeing this contraption called a Trikke for over a year, and so I figured it was time to hunker down and get serious. Of course, I've had an absolute blast riding it, and have dropped about 20 pounds in a couple of months. The health benefits of riding one are numerous... except, of course, when one crashes.

A couple of weeks ago, I was riding with the local dealer/trainer when he shouted "Follow me!" and took off down the hill and over a bridge. I complied. The only problem was that I was going too fast at the bottom of the hill and didn't notice the bump at the edge of the bridge. I lost control of the Trikke and wound up on my backside. No broken bones but a few bruised ribs (and other bruised unspeakables). My buddy described the crash as both "wicked" and "spectacular" (interesting word choices). Then he reminded me of one of the three cardinal rules of riding a Trikke: "Know Your Terrain."

As small as the wheels are on the Trikke, even the smallest crack or patch of sand can send a rider flying. So watching 3 feet, 10 feet, and 30 feet ahead at all times can help avoid the pain later. That was my problem... HE knew that particular parking lot quite well; I didn't.

"Know Your Terrain" helps when branding your accomplishments as well. I started a new project today with a new client. I'm going to be expected to learn the terrain quickly - the project scope, the personalities, the culture, the hot buttons - to avoid crashing my accomplishment. Obviously, knowing the terrain does not preclude learning new terrains. Still, being familiar with the landscape helps before one gains speed too quickly. Besides, if you don't know your terrain, you'll eventually end up being a burden on somebody else, who will help you limp to the nearest x-ray machine and bottle of ibuprofen. Knowing your terrain means you know how to add value to those around you. My buddy, Mike Wagner, calls this the "sweet spot" of branding. Steve Farber refers to it as "do what you love in the service of those who love what you do." However you put it, you'd better know your terrain.

So what about you? Do you know your terrain well enough to surf the concrete smoothly? Or are you going too fast to handle the bumps, loose gravel, and cracks of your accomplishments?

Something to think about before the weekend.


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