Challenging Events

Well all know that life has a wonderful habit of dropping challenges into our laps when we least expect them. Originally this post was going to look at a mountain bike ride I took a few days ago but life threw in an unexpected extra event later that day and it seems so relevant that leaving it out wasn’t an option.These are not life-changing challenges although they do offer several learning points.

Road Trip

At “sudden” notice at 8:00 pm last night, I found myself faced with a road trip over the eastern Pyrenees to the town of Perpignan. I will spare you the details of the why, although there was a little humor in the story. Anyway, the trip began with a choice of three routes. I chose mountains because even in the dark they are stunning. The alternatives were the auto-route or a route that runs parallel to the auto-route – not inspiring although the drive time is about 30-minutes faster than the 114KM mountain route which takes on average 2-hours.

Twenty kilometers out, the weather changed. Torrential rain and high winds ripped across the region. The journey became almost three hours.

Half way across the mountains my driver side headlight decided that it would be a good time to stop working and I had no spare. Not that I liked the idea of stopping in the middle of nowhere to investigate. But, no problem, so long as there was no oncoming traffic I could drive with a full beam. Not that I could see much anyway thanks to the driving rain and car battering wind coming from multi-directions.

We arrived in Perpignan eventually, grabbed what we needed and after 5-minutes, turned the car around and headed back to the mountains. Surely the weather couldn’t get any worse? Ha ha, wishful thinking Steve. The return took three-hours and 5-kilometers from home, a posse of very wet policemen stopped me, checked my papers and breathalyzed me before berating me about the headlight. I patiently explained and noticed the hint of a smirk on the cops face before he wished me a pleasant evening. My daughter and I arrived home ten-minutes later.

Now if I wasn’t feeling quite so jaded, I would relate that story to another set of challenges and bring out the positives, the learning and the enjoyable journey spent with my daughter. That will need to wait for a little brain recovery but I will add the details to this post very soon.

Earlier That Day

This is a story about a man (me) meeting a woman in a most unlikely place. Not a romance, it’s just a true story about two people pursuing their passions.


I was on a 700-meter off-road descent on my mountain bike, not particularly steep but fast; rider and bike are one.

I know there’s a minor road ahead, I will be able to see it soon and if there’s no traffic in sight, I will step up the speed and aim for the take-off point just before the road. My goal is BIG AIR to clear the road and land at the bottom of an ascent and tortuous climb to a water tower. I didn’t expect a speed walker to pop out of the other side of the track just as my wheels left the ground.

It was one of those everything slows down moments.

Dropping my weight onto the saddle, I touched down (not gracefully) and braked hard, coming to a halt slightly ahead of the statuesque woman who grinned and said, “bonjour”. Great ice breaker. I smiled and returned her greeting before apologizing for startling her. She graciously brushed aside my apology and thanked me for the thrill. She had never seen a flying man on a mountain bike before.

We had a few laughs about that, but she declined the idea of getting a bike and besides, she loved speed walking. She described it as a pastime that she found after finding herself alone in this world a few years ago. A group of women taught her the basics and how to map read during their weekly sessions. Now she goes out alone or with her friends three or four times each week whatever the weather.

Although on reflection, I had some ideas about what was coming, I asked her what the benefits were.

Here’s my interpretation from her rather strong local French dialect.

“I knew I needed to exercise more, eat better and get more sleep. Speed walking put me on track. Now it’s a habit I will never give up”. She laughed, “until I’m too old to exercise in this way. The best thing is that I feel great, I love the nature and all I need is a good pair of shoes and the right clothing. It’s amazing how I can approach life head on. I find solutions where not so long ago I found too much darkness”.

Those few words made my day and reminded me that indeed we are all connected. We agreed to look out for one another, said farewell and I shot up the waiting incline like it wasn’t there to a stunning panorama of the snow-capped Pyrenees.

During the final warm-down of that ride, I reflected on meeting the lady with the ski poles. We both followed our passions and shared a little. I suggested she went out and bought a bike. Why did I do that? Was I wrong to suggest it? Then I realized, not for the first time that we all do that. Some people make a fortune from sharing their best advice, best practices and so on. When I got back to my desk, I Googled “articles about what advice on business to choose” and found about 543 million results.

Here’s the header from one of those results, picked at random.

“Tips for starting a small business. Address excuses. Countless people dream of becoming entrepreneurs, but they never do. Absorb everything. Listen to what others have to say—friends, family, experts, even yourself. Be a solution. Keep it simple. Count the costs. Imagine yourself with zero money. Earn while you build. . . “

There’s some good advice in that small header and I apply it to my own work daily. I don’t only address excuses, I challenge them. I became a successful entrepreneur. I don’t absorb everything, I must choose carefully or become inundated with information overload but if it seems relevant, I listen and decide for myself.

I am the solution to what I need to remain successful, I set simple parameters for success and always count the costs and balances. The costs are not necessarily negative by-the-way.

So, how does this relate to the lady with the ski poles? Simple really, we enjoyed a brief connection, we shared our enthusiasm for our respective passions, listened attentively, wished one another farewell and continued our paths. If we meet again, I may share with her what I do for a living but what’s most important is that we keep that connection. We both have much to offer.

I Hope You Have A Beautiful Christmas

Comments and Questions

Please leave yours below. Your thoughts or questions may well ignite a positive spark in another readers thinking. You will always receive a prompt response to your questions and there is no such thing as a bad question; only the one that was never asked.

Peace & Light


Seasons Greetings

Steve Costello is a British Community & Youth Studies and Psychology honors graduate with over 30-years theoretical and practical experience in the Personal Development public and private sectors. He founded ExGro in 2018 with business partner, friend and clinical psychologist, Leo Faerberg.

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