Picking a Line: Leadership Lessons I Learned from Mountain Biking

By August 31, 2016 June 11th, 2019 Leadership

Recently I was mountain biking and thinking about near/far vision. Near/far vision, or focus flexibility, is the ability to change focus from a faraway object to a nearby one, or vice versa. It is vital in a variety of sports.

That same skill is also vital for managers. Not, of course, in the sense of being able to assess a rock or root in front of your wheel as you are setting yourself up for a turn in the trail. But in the sense that your ability to clearly assess what is in front of you, and adjust accordingly, impacts your longer term goals and results.

For example, a physician showing up late for cases is similar to a rock dislodged by another trail rider careening directly into your path. You weren’t expecting it but you suddenly have to deal with it. Not only do you need to relay that information to those who are immediately affected, you have to determine how to minimize its impact on the schedule for the remainder of the day.

Another example – you are reviewing month end accounts receivable data and notice a marked increase in Medicare cases for the month. Ideally, you will use that information to predict the impact the change in payor mix will have on the facility’s available cash in the future.

Perhaps you are budgeting for the new total joint surgeon who “does everything like everyone else.” However, when they arrive and start performing cases, you learn their medication costs are significantly higher than your other physicians. There goes your budget! Now you are scrambling to minimize the impact going forward.

On second thought, maybe it is exactly like avoiding the rocks in your path or sending yourself headlong into a tree!

In the past I worked with young mountain bike racers helping them assess their near/far vision. I taught them exercises to improve their focus flexibility. As managers we can teach ourselves to look for the changes in our business that can knock us off course. We may have to chart an alternate route, but we don’t have to allow the bumps in the road to interfere with accomplishment of our goals. Furthermore, as leaders we can work with our teams to help them understand the importance of constant attention to what is happening now and teach them how doing so can positively impact their results.


By Robert J. Carrera – President and CEO

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