"You can't switch on if you haven't switched off" -Rachel Atherton, 1st place: 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Series

Rachel Atherton switching it on at Fort William.
Image © Atherton Racing
Dan, Gee, and Rachel Atherton are arguably the world's most accomplished family in professional cycling. Certainly so in the past few years' gravity riding disciplines of Enduro, Downhill, and Big Mountain Freeride.

So what can we learn from this family about agility? Quite a bit, I would suggest. The three siblings have chosen to live in a rural area of Wales. They choose to come home to a world where their status as top-tier professional cyclists is essentially meaningless to the local population. A place that for them is summed up in Rachel's thought that it's a place to recharge, and for Dan and Gee to push the limits of their trail building on their own terms and riding skills. And that as a result, enables all of them to perform at the highest levels of international competition, and win. Often.

As an agilist I strongly value continuous improvement. That is my professional territory; and as part of my commitment there I apply intense effort and discipline to improve, to constantly look for the next angle, the next unfinished area. I would even go so far as to say I am relentless, ruthless, in that pursuit. I learned to be that way by putting it on the line in gravity.

And that's not enough. It is not enough to constantly drive to push the envelope, it is not enough to only look forward. I have to rest. I have to look back. Inspect and adapt. I have to find create the spaces to switch off. Even Red Bull, the multinational corporation selling energy drinks on the moniker that "it gives you wings" by expanding possibility, recognizes this: we must find ways to switch off.

It ties right into the concept of sustainable pace, of finding our rhythm. Of finding the leverage that boosts productivity that also creates an eddy to rest in. Switch on, switch off, switch on. As coaches we must model this, and we also must teach it; the best athletes in the world build their careers, their business, on it. I would suggest other businesses should, as well.

In the realm of software that so frequently has people working endless hours, how do we support individuals and organizations to switch off? How have you implemented a sustainable pace?

You can watch the both the Atherton family and Atherton Racing Team on their home turf, courtesy of Red Bull:


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