In the summer, I volunteer as a mountain biking coach for young girls. This year, I led a group of eight awesome 11-year-olds up and down the mountains in my hometown. The group was fantastic -- sweet, funny, and pumped about mountain biking.
One girl in my group struggled with going down hill. Not being a fast descender myself, I can totally relate to her nervousness about pointing yourself down a steep mountain on two wheels at high speeds.
However, she refused to use her brakes.
Now, I'm a pretty laid back coach and try to let the girls ride their own ride. However, using your brakes while riding down hill, is a rule I happen to believe in strongly.
Evidently, this young girl had a really bad crash last summer from braking too hard. She locked out her front brake, and flew over the handle bars. Scary stuff. I totally get it.
However, instead of learning how to brake properly so that doesn't happen again, her technique to handle the situation is to avoid braking. When she starts to go way too fast, instead of braking, she hops off her bike (while its moving!) and into the nearest bush or patch of grass. This works surprisingly well for her, until it doesn't.
As her coach, I wanted her to see that the solution to the problem of going too fast is not avoidance. Because avoiding the brakes makes the bike go way faster, which makes the whole experience soooooo much worse.
Instead, the solution is to learn how to brake better. The only way to learn how to brake better is to consistently practice slow and steady braking, called feathering the brakes. Squeeze both brakes in slowly, then slowly let both brakes out. Rinse and repeat, feathering your brakes all the way down the hill.
Posting on social media is a slow and steady practice, like feathering your brakes while riding down a mountain.
Honestly, I used to avoid social media. I had a few "bad crashes" -- I spent hours creating a post to get zero likes or reactions. Or, I would stress out about the content I shared and check my feed like every 30 seconds, working myself into a frenzy, praying for some sort of affirmation or feedback.
Social media felt overwhelming and stressful, so I just didn't do it. Yet I was still in the game of building my own business. So, sharing content (on social media or not) becomes an inherent part of the game of business. Kind of like how braking down hill is an inherent part of mountain biking. If you choose to stay in the game, you kind of have to do it at some point.
Eventually, I committed to learning how this whole social media thing works. And you know what? It's really not that scary. Kind of like how mountain biking is actually super fun when you know how to brake properly.
On a mountain bike, you can't really practice braking without picking up a little speed. Likewise, you can't really practice sharing your message without actually posting. I figured out how social media works purely through the messy and awkward act of posting, and not a moment before.
Please allow me to beat this braking metaphor to death one more time 😁…
I used to think that my success or failure hinged on the success of one post (like jamming the brakes). If one post didn't do well I just wanted to quit the whole process entirely.
Now, I see sharing and posting is akin to feathering the brakes. It's light and gentle, done consistently and slowly over time, the entire way down the mountain. It might feel awkward or like you're out of control but pretty soon you pick up the rhythm as it becomes second nature. Bonus, the more you share your message, the clearer you get on your message!
Your business' success or failure does not ride on the results of one post. Instead, each post is more like a gentle drop in the bucket of your overall message. And the happy thumbs don't really matter as much as the fact that you're consistently engaging with people on the platform and showing up. Slowly and steadily you make your way down the mountain, feathering your brakes, one single post at a time.
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