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Bike Path Lessons in Development Work

February 24, 2011

Now that the rains have come, I need to carefully pick my way over some pretty rough paths and roads on my bicycle commute to and from work each day.  As I concentrate on navigating rocks, bricks, potholes, chickens, people and wash outs, I’ve realize that I’ve learned some important lessons to help me get there safely.  I’ve also began to notice, that many of these lessons about navigating my path to work, also apply to navigating the path of my work once I get to the office.   Here are some examples that illustrate what I mean.

  • Stay alert, the road is constantly changing with each storm.  Just because it was fine last time, doesn’t mean it will still be fine today.
  • Look to find the good parts of the path instead of looking to avoid the bad.  If you focus all your attention on the rough parts, you’ll surely hit them.
  • Learn from your mistakes.  If part of the path caused you trouble yesterday, try a different approach today.
  • Making the effort to greet people along the way makes it a more enjoyable ride for everyone.
  • Listen to what people have to say about the route, they’ve been around longer, and know the paths better than you.
  • Get out of your seat when the going gets tough – bumps in the road feel worse when you just take them sitting down.
  • Going downhill is always quicker and easier than going uphill… although it won’t necessarily get you where you want to go.
  • Don’t be ashamed to get down and walk if you need to.  It may take longer, but you could be preventing a catastrophic fall (just remember to move out of the way of those who are still riding).
  • Things are going to get a muddy and dirty along the way, you can’t really avoid it, just be prepared to clean up a little when you get where you’re going.
  • Even the best planned route, may require some modification as you go – be ready to change course if needed.
  • Sometimes you have to shift gears really quickly, just be careful you don’t break something in the process.
  • Carry some tools in your back pocket; you never know when you might need to pull them out to tighten things up.


14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2011 12:48 pm

    hi – that’s a well written and apt description that could (and should) be applied to so many situations. I especially relate to your first tip … and seventh … and the tenth, of course … and definitely the last two … and … 😉 .
    will talk to you soon, cv

  2. February 24, 2011 6:16 pm

    Love it! Great lessons Alyssa!
    How’s your placement going by the way?? I’m really going to email you soon… one of these days…

  3. Karen Forgrave permalink
    February 24, 2011 9:04 pm

    Hi Alyssa,
    You should publish some of these posts!! You’re a great writer! My high school’s slogan was (is) “Keep well the road”….I guess you’re doing that, literally – even when the road is not “well”, you are doing your best to keep going on it! Keep up the good work!

  4. February 24, 2011 10:29 pm

    Hey Alyssa,

    Great post, keep up the great writing and insights, I love it!

  5. Snori permalink
    February 24, 2011 10:50 pm

    Your so cute.
    I love your analagy of the bike path to life.
    Miss you!!!

  6. February 25, 2011 1:37 am

    My dear Alyssa
    Your continued resourcefulness, innovation, optimism, perseverance and positive outlook on life and things are just a few of your numerous attributes that make us all love you so much. Your examples are great for all life situations and I must learn to try some of them when stressed. 🙂 Keep smiling – even through the bumps. Much love from mom xoxo

  7. February 25, 2011 1:58 am

    Your hazards of the road are different than the roads of Ontario, other than the trail around Lower Galla Lake we rode with Megan. Your thoughts about life apply just the same here as on the roads of Malawi. Looking forward to sharing the road with you on a bike ride in the future!!!
    Love, Dad

  8. susan permalink
    February 25, 2011 6:47 pm

    Feeling like it’s an uphill day for me today so reading this was quite the encouragement! Keep up the blogging lyss! Love it. Love ya~

  9. Hannah permalink
    February 27, 2011 12:28 am

    Hi Alyssa!

    Reading this post has definitely given me some things to think about. Thanks for your insights and keep up the great work blogging! I love hearing about your work in Malawi! Miss ya~!
    ps: i hope that you’re feeling better.

    Love Hannah

  10. Holly Lindsay permalink
    February 27, 2011 7:38 pm

    You are so insightful and I feel this experience has just deepened your already positive and put together outlook on life. I am so thankful to be a Lindsay and be your “cousin”. When I was in high school I had a saying “a rough path may hurt your feet, but a smooth path can make you slip”. I am sure it is from a great philosopher or a fortune cookie. 🙂 Keep learning, keep growing! Love-Holly and Mark

  11. minashahid permalink
    March 1, 2011 5:40 pm

    Absolutely amazing post! This is why I love you!!! Also, super awesome Zambike! I love how your wearing a helmet too!!! You’re awesome!!!!!!

  12. March 5, 2011 5:59 pm

    Cute post Alyssa! Glad to see you’re enjoying the bike. I’m experiencing the same fear of ending up in a muddy puddle (though I’m just on foot, and not on a bike!).

    Looking forward to seeing you guys again at the next Southern Africa retreat!

  13. March 6, 2011 5:50 am

    Alyssa, great words of wisdom. It sounds as if you are really listening to your inner voice. So many of your comments hit home. If we concentrate on the good path we are sure to be healthier for it. Our energy will be focussed in the right direction and the view will be far more enjoyable.

    How lucky you are to have learned at such a young age to try a different approach when things aren’t working. Too often we struggle with trying to make something work when a different approach may work instantly. Knowing when you have given enough time towards solving a problem or navigating through a situation is sometimes hard to do. Is it tenacity, being stubborn or just plain stupidity. More and more I find if I let go and follow the advice of a colleague or friend the task gets done a lot sooner.

    I hope you will continue to share your stories, hopes and dreams.


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