When our own inablities impact people close to us’ abilities

I am struggling a bit with the title of this post, since inability is not necessarily the right word, but weakness is not the right word either. They’re both pretty strong words describing the lack of ability, which is not quite what I’m referring to. So I’ll let the post do the explaining.

Leon and I have been cycling together since the very first time we met. Initially I was the stronger rider, when we hooked up again he was much stronger than I was, and now we make turns. He is the stronger accelerator and sprinter. Some days I can climb with him, some days he out climbs me, and then there has been the very rare occasion that I could out climb him. I’m a stronger flat road rider than he is, and if you put me on a time trial bike he has to work his bum off to keep up with me.

I started something that I realised last week has now become habit for both of us. In my mind a negative unexpected consequence of my actions. Both of us have now started subjecting the third musketeer of our best friends circle, Steve, to this trait.

Initially when I started riding with Leon, he was always faster and stronger. My goal on a daily basis was to ride as hard as I can to keep up. The habit I’m talking about – I would complain about my inability to keep up and my concern about not being strong enough. When Leon climbed a hill really well or had a brilliant ride, instead of congratulating him on his ride, I would complain about my inability.

Fast forward 5 years later – when I have a strong day or set a strong pace on a flat road, or out ride Leon on a steady state interval, instead of recognising me for being strong on the day, Leon complains about how weak he was and how will he ever be able to race if he can’t keep up with me. And then, poor Steve, who is the strongest rider of our three musketeers, has to date never been recognised for almost popping a lung while riding like a champion.

Mentally and emotionally this has done more harm than good, in fact I don’t think it has done either of us any good. Some days when I could and should ride harder, I don’t because I’m worried about Leon’s belief of his own ability. Leon has shared with me that if I ride in front of him and just make a small gap on him, he mentally then can’t keep up. When Leon hits the wall on a ride, it means I can’t sit in front to protect him from the wind, because then he slows down even more. Over and above this I believe it has impacted us even more negatively. When I podium in an event but it’s not first, I berate myself and have no feeling of achievement. We’ve conditioned ourselves so much to only see the weaknesses in us, that we’re completely missing our strengths!

I’ll end this post by firstly giving a huge and sincere apology to Leon. I am sorry that my bad habit has not only now become yours, but has also impacted you emotionally and mentally. It is manipulative and it is unfair. You are the reason I can now compete at the level I do, you believe in me and push me all the time. Secondly I apologise to Steve. We owe it to you to congratulate you on your strength and commitment to getting stronger. I admire how you can ride in any condition, wind, rain, storms. I also admire how I don’t think I’ve ever seen you having a bad day, and even when you do you still ride strong and push through.

Lastly, I commit to only focusing on my strengths and people who ride with me’s strengths. We are all heros, each on different days, sometimes on the same day, but we are all heros!

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One thought on “When our own inablities impact people close to us’ abilities

  1. Good insight – I guess in competitive sports where we compete with friends or family this behaviour is very common. We end up comparing ourselves to them and feel less strong / even talented. At the end of the day it comes down to supporting each other and acknowledging each others achievements, no matter who is stronger or faster on the day.

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