“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~ African Proverb
When my wife Kelly and I first bought our shiny yellow tandem bicycle, I was so excited to take it out for a test drive. I expected the tandem to be just like, well… riding a bike. If perhaps just slightly more awkward? When I jumped on the back seat, I immediately realized that I was in for a surprise. You see, on a tandem bicycle, the back seat handlebars are fixed in place. They exist only to help you keep balance, and contribute nothing whatsoever to the steering of the bike. I then quickly realized that tandem connects both sets of pedals with a single chain, forcing the riders to cycle in sync. As we made our way out into the neighborhood street, one thing became clear; my job here was to pedal and to lend unquestioning support to Kelly in the captain’s seat.
Personally, as someone who likes to take charge, I found it very difficult to surrender control of the bike to my wife. When I tried to lean over to look ahead, I threw us off-balance and we would begin to wobble. When I shouted out steering suggestions, they were misinterpreted (putting it kindly) and always ended up doing more harm than good. I slowly began to relearn the lesson that we first discovered through our practice of acroyoga: it requires trust in order to be graceful.
Ultimately, I had to let go. I had to learn to be playful despite my lack of control or direction in the ride. Once I was able to fully let go of my need to be the in front, the experience became so much more fun. While Kelly steered us to good places, I put in the extra pedal power to give us momentum. We were having a great time, we were in sync, and we were cruising.
Given our current political climate, I think many male leaders could learn a thing or two by taking a few laps around the block in the back seat of a tandem bike. In so many arenas, males dominate the leadership positions. Women make up just 16.6% of corporate board officers at Fortune 500 companies, and own a staggering 1% of all titled land in the world.*
When learning how to row or ride or work together, it takes good communication and equanimity to stay in balance. Arguments arise easily when you’re in the thick of it and, in my experience, this friction often stems from the man’s need for control, and from his belief he can do better.
Through the years, I’ve learned that if you win an argument with your partner, nobody wins. However, when you treat your relationship like a team, everything changes. You realize that you are on a long journey together, and that a win for her means a win for us. Whenever I catch myself growing argumentative, I try to take a deep breath and remember that teamwork makes the dream work!
As a creative couple, Kelly and I have been working for years on how to thrive as married business partners. This year, things are getting even more interesting. As we enter into a new year under our new brand of CIRCUS PICNIC, we do so for the first time with a team working around us. We have recently hired on a staff of four editors and producers to take our work to the next level. With this creative cast of characters, we’ll be able to hoist up even bigger circus tents and climb up even steeper hills.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Sure, we didn’t need to build a team. As the proverb suggests, we could just as easily go the road alone and pedal quicker with less complexity. In fact, for years, Kelly and I did just that, working in tandem to produce amazing videos and events while collecting unforgettable experiences. However, we realized that our mission of bringing positive movement media to the masses is far too big for our four legs to support alone. When you have a team moving forward together with a common vision, there is so much more strength and momentum.
I see us pedaling collectively towards some incredible projects this year, and we hope you’ll follow along to see what we create together!
P.S. Does anyone know where we can find a 6 seater bike?
* statistics referenced from the phenomenal book Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life.