Special contribution by Adam Roberge
Adam Roberge is a Canadian cyclist on his road to the 2024 Paris Olympics. Big Bang choose to sponsor Adam on his journey because he is a great ambassador of our core values of teamwork, groundedness, and responsiveness. The resilience that Adam is exhibiting, both in training and in publicly sharing his journey, is strongly aligned with who we are as a company and our approach to digital transformation.
Resilience requires pushing through a challenging experience and using the obstacles as a catalyst for growth. Seeking greatness, aiming high, and holding ourselves accountable to big, scary goals will undoubtedly result in some sort of shortcoming – but it’s only here where the magic happens. Instead of simply giving up when faced with suboptimal results, it’s important to take a step back and build an action plan that will achieve results moving forward. This response will ensure we are continuously improving and growing.
For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to partake in the Olympics. In order to get there, I’ve been relentlessly training and competing in races across the US and Canada. Alongside my desire to compete, my mission is to capitalize on training and competing experiences to build myself into the best person I can be. I aim to tap into the lessons I learn as a professional athlete to help people live more fulfilling lives.
I see sport as the arena in which I can test my ability to practice what I preach, and my ability to never give up on living according to my values. In cycling, I get to test that wisdom out in a concrete way. After that, when I encounter hardship in my life, I know that not giving up on my values & doubling down on living optimally will serve me, exactly as it has regarding cycling.
Through the help of experts, books, articles, podcasts, and conferences, I have been able to deepen my knowledge and understanding of resilience. Below are some of the key learning points I have discovered throughout my journey:
Lesson 1: As High Performers, Failure Is Our Best Teacher
In the quest for excellence throughout my cycling career, I’ve realized time and time again that without failure there is no change, and without it, no growth. At the beginning of the 2021 season, my first two competitions were not as successful as I had hoped. I had switched to a more senior racing category, meaning the competitions were longer, and the bar was much higher. While I was competing for the win, I did not cross the line first as I envisioned. Here, I was faced with two options: 1) To give up, or 2) To learn from my mistakes and make changes that would help me achieve my goal.
As you may have guessed, quitting was not something I could accept. It’s at this roadblock that I decided to adjust my schedule to increase training hours on the bike and ensure that I would be going on at least two long outings per week. I learned that as long as you have not tried and failed, it is impossible to have the right expectations.
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill
I believe it is crucial to change our perception of failure. We need to view failure as an opportunity to understand what we are missing. As high achievers, we need to become “comfortable” coexisting with shortcomings. In aiming high, we are forced to face some hardships and step outside our comfort zone. When I adjusted my training after those first races in 2021, I went from the usual 6-hour volume ride to an 8-hour endurance ride adding a high-intensity mix as well. During the first weeks of this new training regimen, I would hit a wall of fatigue around the 5-hour mark and thought I couldn’t possibly be on my bike for longer. After about 3 weeks of persevering through this discomfort, 8-hour outings became the new standard.
Coexisting with failure doesn’t mean lowering our standard of excellence. Contrary to our first intuition, being comfortable with failures allows us to aim for higher standards by enabling us to take risks. In pushing beyond comfort, an even bigger comfort zone is creative where we can perform. It’s important to remember that there are mental barriers that separate us from our goals. In continuously pushing those barriers, you become profoundly aware of the fact that being resilient in your training can take you to new heights in the quest for your big, often scary, goal. If my objective was simply to rank in the top 10 cyclists in the country, I would not be facing as much adversity as I do on my path to the Olympics. In setting the ambitious goal, I know that I will have to be among the top 2 athletes in my sport in the whole country to perform at the next level.
Lesson 2: Holding Ourselves Accountable With Precision and Honesty
When I was beginning my professional cycling career, I excelled in races against the clock. I worked a lot on this aspect and achieved the status of Canadian champ 3 years in a row. My mistake was that I didn’t put more time and focus on the area where I was not excelling: road races. I fell into the trap of putting my efforts where I was already experiencing ease and turning a blind eye to the area that most needed improvement.
This is also where a coach comes in. Their role is to be an impartial judge and help you to take some distance to avoid falling into falsely positive or negative performance self-evaluations. For the past two years, I’ve placed more emphasis on improving my performance in road races. The funny thing is that my performance in races against the clock hasn’t suffered one bit as a result.
As greatness seekers, holding ourselves accountable to clear and precise goals with regular evaluation will ensure we stay on track and persistently make the necessary adjustments. After each training session, I evaluate my performance according to objective KPIs related to the power exerted on my bicycle measured in Watts. The only way to guarantee an accurate and useful assessment of our performance is to cultivate brutal honesty toward the craft. Without continual objective reviews of the work, blind spots will accumulate and inevitably result in quality or throughput collapse. Our primary measure of success should be based on how we improve the process.
“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden.
Lesson 3: Using Obstacles to Our Advantage
In 2020, we were all confronted with an obstacle outside of our control: the global pandemic. I saw all my competitions get canceled one by one. This could easily have become a negative situation for my cycling career, but in fact, it allowed me the time to optimize my training in a way not possible during a regular season when I am constantly traveling. I focused on my training and came back stronger: 2021 was my best season yet.
Moving through uncertainty is what distinguishes winners from the rest of the competition. For most, uncertain times are a good enough excuse to freeze. For the few, it’s the path from good to great. Many people struggle to find motivation under conditions of uncertainty, and this is true for athletes as well as business people. Many athletes that I know did not train at all in 2020 since they didn’t know when to expect their next competition. Some even withdrew from their sports entirely. When things are going well, anybody can find the motivation to push forward. When there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles, that is when you need to rely on your intrinsic motivation to keep pushing forward.
The distance that the pandemic allowed me to take was invaluable because it allowed me to surpass the athletes I used to compete against. I used to be one of 20 Canadians competing at my level, and am now one of five. Because of my resilience throughout my training in 2020, there are more opportunities than ever awaiting me in 2021.
Lesson 4: Quitting is Not an Option
Defeat doesn’t come from failing. It comes from quitting before the winner.
There are always two courses of action when faced with an obstacle: to approach or to avoid. Approaching requires seeing the challenge with a healthy mindset and using the challenge to expand our comfort zone and reach our true potential. On the other hand, avoidance means seeing the obstacles as a threat, feeling sorry for ourselves, and embodying a victim mindset.
Success is measured at every step on the path toward meeting a goal. In life, there is no finish line. This resonates because there is no one moment where you achieve success and that’s it. To succeed, you have to make sure you live every moment of existence in line with your values. Making the optimal choice in every moment will result in a state of mind that is at peace, which many call happiness.
In summary, whether you have a business, personal or athletic goal, it takes resilience to get to the next level, grow, and achieve your objectives. It’s important to think strategically about your course of action and learn from your failures. Hold yourself accountable and set achievable metrics to measure your progress. Next time you are faced with a challenge, approach it as a welcomed part of growth and find some comfort in your discomfort – knowing it will work out for the best.
If you want to learn more about Adam Roberge and his journey to the 2024 Paris Olympics, you can follow him on his social media: