What I Learned (Again) at a Peddle Bar

What I Learned (Again) at a Peddle Bar

Not too long ago I enjoyed the opportunity to bring a leadership team to beautiful Asheville, NC. If you’ve never been please make it a point to go there. One of the best places on the planet to stop, regroup, and consider what’s most important as regards your people and your business.


Best in Class.


Day II we ended our day with a Peddle Bar similar to the one you see in the picture above – a one-hour trip around downtown on a battery powered contraption that is strengthened by the leg muscles of the guests – at least sometimes.


The Peddle Bar is a wonderful way to laugh, see the sights, and yes – enjoy a drink if you’re so inclined.


I took my seat on the far back right and, along with other members of my team, proceeded to peddle furiously as we approached the first hill. To my surprise, I found the resistance to be “next to none.” I leaned over to the riding partner on the next seat and commented, “This looks like a big con to me – we AREN’T doing anything…this is all the battery, not us.


She looked back with a quizzical look – and continued to peddle.


Over the next hour I contented myself with going through the motions of the game. Peddling on command but mostly waving at the pedestrians who paused to snap our picture – to include passing motorists who clearly thought this comical array of visitors warranted a second look.


I of course offered words of encouragement to my ride-mates, shouting from my seat on the “back of the bus” as we made our way up and down hills – but mostly laughing, waving at the photographers, and enjoying myself.


As we approached the final segment of our ride I again commented to my teammates that this whole thing was nothing more than a thinly veiled golf cart ride with pedals just for show – our only contribution was in enjoying a beer of choice and photo opportunities for other tourists.


Since we were seated and prepared to start again I proved my point by furiously peddling – with little to no resistance.


The teammate beside me gave me another odd look and said, “I can barely move my pedals when we’re stopped.” And she proved it by almost standing up and pushing down.


At that point our driver glanced back at me and yelled, “Your chain is broken. You’ve done absolutely nothing this whole ride.”


We all laughed – especially me. No wonder I thought this was a con. For me, it was. My contribution to our “ride” had been zilch.


When the catcalls and the laughter subsided I thought about that experience – and how often our little Peddle Bar adventure sometimes mirrors our own career journey.


Particularly as regards the leaders who “sit at the back” like I did that day – or the teammates who are inclined to take that same seat and offer commentary versus contribution.


Here’s what I mean. How many times have you worked with a peer and/or supervisor who:


  • Spent a lot of time yelling at others to pedal harder
  • Made little to no contribution to the overall success of the journey
  • Soaked up the “plaudits” of the crowd – waving and acknowledging them while the workers all had to peddle that much more to compensate
  • Believed they were actually helping the team but were operating with a “broken chain” of their own
  • Was totally oblivious to what was really happening


Sound familiar? I’ve managed and/or led people for three plus decades and if truth be told, there have been times when my contribution probably was about the same as it was in Asheville – a lot of noise and no pedal.


Our Peddle Bar Experience reminded me again that life has a way of teaching us – if we are prepared to listen. Teams only become great teams when there is:


  • Constancy of purpose
  • Integration of effort
  • Shared ownership


In your career journey you will eventually encounter a leader who sits at the back – unaware and blissfully so. The same holds true for a department colleague and/or teammate.


They’re out there. They will always be out there. Recognizing them – and figuring out what to do about it is the challenge.


It’s one of the reasons I wrote the The Compass Solution: A Guide to Winning Your Career (on the market in late September, 2017).


It’s the decisions you make that will dictate whether you enjoy a significant career.


Make sure it’s Best in Class.

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