People like us who have forged our place in this universe through intellect, it’s pretty scary to let that go. So it becomes our identity and becomes our safety.
I’ve had to be the smartest guy in the room for too long. I’m over it. I’m over it.
But if we can let that go, then we can start to really realize our power.
In this episode, Richard and Peter interview world-class mountain bike coach Lee McCormack. If you’re a coach or leader of any kind—or if you just care about your own growth and development—this episode is packed with advice and inspiration.
Learn more about Lee at leelikesbikes.com.
Like this episode? Also check out…
Couch to Running 45 Miles Across the Grand Canyon
The one where Peter apologizes to the CEO
A Path to Real Empowerment for Teams
Overcoming Resistance to Change
Seven Skills All Great Coaches Master
The Three Jobs of Management
Coaching for Leaders: Scale Leadership Through Improved Coaching Skills
When: July 17, 2023 from 9:00am – 1:00pm MDT
Where: Virtual, instructor-led
Join us to learn about a model leaders use to catalyze individual and team growth, broader and deeper thinking, and greater collaborative capability.
Welcome to the humanizing work show, where we explore themes related to humanizing work, including leadership, teams, collaboration, and motivation. If you’re a regular listener, you know Agile software development is a common topic for us, but the application of humanizing work goes way beyond software.
Today, we’re super excited to be joined by Lee McCormack. Lee is best known for his expertise in mountain biking. He’s a world class bike coach, the author of several books on mountain biking and the inventor of Rip Row, a cool looking piece of exercise equipment that makes its users better at biking and a variety of other sports with similar body mechanics.
Now, Lee’s joining us on the humanizing work show, not exactly because of biking, but because he’s one of the best coaches I know in any discipline. And he’s been a big influence on my coaching. And as I’m sure we’ll get to later in this conversation, even when Lee is working with someone on their biking, it’s not really fundamentally about the bike. It’s about broader skill development and personal development with the bike as the medium.
So we’re going to dig into how Lee approaches coaching and skill development and particularly what business coaches and leaders can learn from this.
Some background: I first hired Lee to help me with my mountain biking about twelve years ago, and then he went on to coach my whole family. I coached him a bit on his businesses, we became friends and collaborators; and then, last year, I invited Lee to lead a session at our Humanizing Work conference on coaching and skill development, and man, he delivered! Many participants said it was one of their favorite sessions of the whole conference. So we are thrilled to introduce Lee to our larger Humanizing Work community here on the show today. Lee, welcome to the humanizing work show.
Thanks, you guys. It’s really always good to see you guys. Beautiful.
Let’s dive right in. Lee You’ve had multiple, sometimes overlapping careers: Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and illustrator; bike coach, of course; founder and CEO of a product company with Rip Row. You’ve worked in the software business, you’ve written books, you’ve created videos. I could keep going, but what’s the thread through all of these things?
Now, that’s a good question. You know, the thread has always been discovering essential truth,
and in communicating it; that’s always been the thread. So when I was an informational graphics artist at a pretty good sized daily newspaper, that was a cycle that happened several times a day. It was a really beautiful kiln for thinking because this is before the internet, so a story would cross the wire; I’d have a few hours to figure it out and boil it down to a graphic that big. You know, back then we had a telephone and we had the World Book Encyclopedia, you know, and that was really good, you know, and just again, like to see what was at the bottom of whatever the story is and express it so someone could be flipping through and get it and then moving on into designing software, let’s say, for one of the bigger dot coms back in the day, it’s the same idea.
It’s like, what does the user need here? You know what I mean? And of course, for a lot of years there I was the guy, you know, a lot of UX people identify as like you have the crazy CEO and the crotchety engineers and customers and I was the person in the middle of that, right, to try to create solutions.
But I always found that to be like a more complicated version of the same essential process of like what’s important, how do we make it simple? And then as a coach, as a writer, as an author, it’s been continually building the skill set to perceive things and perceive the essence of things, and then to be able to express that beautiful truth, I think in the most elegant ways I can.
I think that’s key. And even I’ll say this, even when I was a downhill racer, a mountain bike downhill racer, and I was a motocrosser too, it was like it was really kind of a cognitive process that was similar, honest to goodness. It was like, you have what appears to be this randomly violent course. You’re projecting an enormous amount of kinetic energy down this thing with danger.
If you mess up, you get very hurt. But again, it was, within all that chaos and confusion, to find the simplicity and to create beauty. And I think that’s been a really common thing for me.
Lee, How do you think then, of the role of a coach? Is it different or is it really the same thing?
You said it. I think it’s pretty much a similar idea. It’s like you’re working with your person or your team– let’s go person, right? And you have a sense for what this person needs or is ready for. Actually, a good coach can probably see ten levels, ten steps ahead, I think. But the coach is also good at understanding what the next step is– the one they can handle– and then to understand and then yeah, to make it as simple as they can.
Sometimes I think a coach can just lay down a pathway. Hey, follow these steps. They generally work, right? And then of course when they’re following the steps, things come up and you can ask Socratic questions to get the person to reflect, you know what I mean? And kind of guide them there. And then of course, often we don’t know what the path is until we get there.
And you’re just kind of there to be the person’s alter mind, to see things the other person doesn’t see. That’s something that Richard’s always done for me. Like I’ll talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and he’ll throw three or four words at it and I’ll be like, “Oh, right, I’m going to rethink that,” you know?
And that’s a role, too, right?
Yeah I think there’s something to seeing the person that you’re with when you coach that you’re particularly good at. I remember a time when Dawn and I, my wife, we were both preparing for racing slalom at the Sea Otter Classic, which was a big race or us, and an early season race– you don’t have a tone of time to train after the snow, here in Colorado, and I remember you coaching both of us on the same discipline, on the same course, and interacting totally differently with each of us. I don’t know if you remember that, but–
Yeah, I do. Yeah.
If you do, what was your mental model for that coaching move? How were you thinking about interacting with each of us?
Honestly, you know, when I’m doing it well, I’m not thinking. I’m feeling it, right? I’ve done the work to know the patterns of mountain biking and of humanity. I’ve done the work. And so, as we all know, we’re best when we can forget it and go intuitively. And you and Dawn are different people, right? You just have different personalities. And so just working with you to help you get to your next place, you need different cues, you need a different approach. With you, we can be analytical, we need to be analytical. You need to understand it, we need to whiteboard it out.
And then with you I’ll find subtle ways, subtle ways to get you out of your mind and more embodied, right? I think that’s kind of how we’ve been working together through cycle after cycle after cycle on the bike. Dawn, of course, is a little different. I think she needs to be thrust out of her mind into her body a little bit more aggressively.
And that’s what I found with her. And she doesn’t need the detailed white board and analytical approach. She’s a pretty embodied athlete as it is. And and so with her I’m actually pointier with her than I am with you, aren’t I? I’m a little pointier and I’m a little bit more aggressive with her and I’ll just say, “Just stop. The timer is running. Go!” And for her, that’s the cue to go into a flow state to get out of her brain right? With you, I think your architecture is more analytical, let’s say, than hers is. I’ll say it that way. We got to go to the same place. But it’s more of a gentle offering, I feel.
And so honestly, like in those moments, it’s me absolutely having some mastery of my craft. Of course I’m better now. We’re always getting better. But I had some level of mastery that day and I had some level of awareness of myself as an entity that day and had a knowledge of each of you. And then it all came together in kind of a flowy way.
Mm hmm. Do you remember that exact instance? Like I get the theory or kind of the mental model of how you approach it differently. How did that manifest on that day, on that mountain? Coaching for that race?
Okay, great. So, we are at the Belmont Bike Park here in Boulder with a beautiful professional grade slalom track. They are about to go to the Sea Otter Classic for all you people who don’t know about mountain bike stuff, that is the premier race in North America.
That’s the biggie. Everybody’s there. It’s also the biggest festival– I think they get 30,000 people there. And that slalom track is, I think, the marquee event of being a mountain bike racer. Isn’t it a singular moment, Richard, to come over that hill and there’s just people yelling and it’s just incredible. Right?
Yeah, coming out of that gate, there’s nothing like it.
Just pure intent, right? Pure intent.
Actually, I broke my chain on my first practice run that year because it was just a level of intensity I had never done. Like, in the gate, the very first pedal stroke was more than the bike could handle. It was just the intensity of the moment.
Yeah, well, that’s fair because you’re a big, strong dude and in practice you had never gone to that place of neuromuscular activation. But beep, beep, beep, beep. Sir. Yeah. Snapped the gate.That’s what happens, right?
So, so what we were doing, Peter, is we were on like a proxy for that track in a quiet situation. And so with Richard–let me see if I can be really specific– with Richard, it’s a matter of mastering the patterns. The physical patterns. I would say– I hope I can say this– like Richard is more of a natural intellect, let’s say, where Dawn is more of a natural athlete.
Right. She is the real athlete in the family.
Well, not “real– different.”
She’s the intuitive athlete in the family..
Fair enough. But keep in mind, right, like all the paths can go to the same place, right? And you know my story. It took me forever to qualify for that race. I was a beginner. I couldn’t even make the beginner class. And I’m watching these guys who I consider to be my heroes, winning the pro class. Guess what?
We’re all over 50. We are now peers and I’ll get in the gate with the dude. I’m always crying. It’s a big deal to be in the gate with this guy who you idolized on the cover of the magazine and they execute him and he shakes your hand and sends you on your way.. And you know what? It’s a powerful experience. So anyway, but you guys are different sorts of athletes.
So then with Richard, it’s giving him the deep confidence through his intellect that, look, if you do this thing with your handlebar over every single bump, every single time, you’re safe. And of course there’s a relationship between intellect and number of reps it takes and it’s a big number for Richard. Right? And then what we’ll do with Richard is I’ll very gradually say, okay, go faster.
And then he’s got really beautiful long limbs. So I say, “Now remember, Richard, the longer your range of motion and the faster you move, the faster you can gobble up these shapes. It’s like the game Guitar Hero in that way.” And so with Richard, it’s generally been pretty methodical, step by step, by step, by step by step.
And then I’ll go,” All right, Richard, just chase me,” and I’ll go about 4% faster than he thinks he can go, which we all know is kind of the magical flow. And then next thing I know, I hear a guy on my wheel and it’s him. And he’s a happy dude, right? With Dawn, once I know she has the pattern– Okay, let me say this: Richard is able to execute at a pretty high level while still using his intellect. And I think my guess is that’s because that’s how Richard has constructed his life. Right? And then we can kind of step a little bit out of it and then go to the magic and find flow.
With Dawn, she’s much more embodied in my opinion and her intellect, when she starts to worry, is very much in the way. So where I’m like, “Okay, Richard, you know, the angle changes 18 degrees here. Now, the distance between your feet and your hands on your mountain bike is 84 centimeters. You have to move your hands 20 centimeters on each bump.”
He’s like, “Got it” over and over and over and over and over. And it gets faster and it’s highly effective. That’s his path, right? Dawn is like, “All right, Dawn, just go as fast as you can.” And sometimes I’ll fuss at her. Sometimes I’ll fuss at Dawn (generally not in front of Richard), but I’ll fuss at her when it’s the two of us to get her a little bit emotional, a little bit more in her body.
And that’s the path for her. At the end, we’re allowed to sit at the bottom, the track. Everybody’s safe, everybody’s executed at their level. It’s just a different way.
And she actually did go on to podium at that race in the amateur class after breaking her finger at her first run. So I think there was a lot of what you taught her actually showed up in the race.
It’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty awesome. And it wouldn’t surprise me that she goes out and breaks something and then goes ahead and flourishes anyway. That sounds like her.
One time there was a guy I used to work with on the bike. He was a physician and he’s trying to position himself as like this naturopathic guy with his side business and he’s trying to get published. He’s trying to get published. And I was doing a Zoom call. I coach on Zoom and in real life, and he was kind of kvetching that he’d been trying to write these articles.
He spent months on them and they get rejected because they just weren’t well written, you know. So I said, Well, you want me to coach you on how to write? Sure. So we did another call. We worked through his story that he wanted to say. I coached him on the cognitive model of writing. I said, “Are you good to go?”
And he’s like, “No, man. Last time it took four months,” and I was like, “It’s 1:00. I got to go coach at 2:00. I expect a draft.” And I hung up. I hung up. Guess what came in at 1:50, a perfect draft, one typo, published. So that’s the guy who’d been thinking long enough and had to be pressed.
Where’d you learn that? Did you have mentors or models of people that were great coaches in your life?
I’ve never had a coach until now. Um um. This is intuition, I suppose, Or just past lives or however we quantify these things. And as a kid, you know, Richard knows the story. I was blessed with some years in a Catholic military academy and I think I learned a lot about leadership there the hard way because that place was Lord of the Flies/Taps.
And most of the company commanders ruled through intimidation and violence. But I was smaller and last to puberty, so I just had to kind of learn how to work with people differently. And I think a lot of it started as a kid,
That, for some people, could crush them. Sounds like it was like a breeding ground for who you are today. I’m like, as long as I’ve known you, Lee, you’re a force of positivity, high energy, pure motivation. I’m wondering where that comes from and whether that’s changed over time.
Yeah, that’s a good question. Thank you, by the way. Thank you for that.
You know, I’m at the point in my life, I’m middle aged-ish, you know, where I’m remaking. I’m going through another round as a human being. I’m remaking myself again. And I’m using– I’ve just had both shoulders replaced. I wore them out from mountain biking. There’s mechanical reasons for that, but mostly emotional, self-destructive reasons. Let’s be clear.
Low self-esteem, the need to please other people. The need to be the national champion, which I was– good for me, right? I’m really going through trying to remake some of these habits, so I come out cleaner and more useful to myself and everybody, right? Honestly, I think that the positivity, that energy, that desire to be of service; to help, teach, learn is intrinsic to me. I think it’s just intrinsic. And one thing when I work with my clients, right, I ask them, you know, because most of us don’t have contact with our intuitive voice, we’ve never heard it or the voice of God. However you look at these things. It’s all the same. Most of us don’t have access to it and we’re just stuck in noise.
And so maybe one of the things we can ask ourselves is like, “All right, well, look at your whole life, right?” No matter what happened, things that you consider to be really tough, things that you consider to be really hard, really horrible experiences. Every day you woke up. Who were you? Did you wake up bitter, or do you wake up like, wow, that was hard, but man, what am I going to do today? And when I look back, I’ve always, no matter what my situation was, even at like military academy, I was like, well, I got to shine my shoes. I’m going to shine them. I’m the bugler. I’m going to play reveille so clean this time. And I think that’s just inherent to me on this round. If you believe in incarnation, that sort of thing, I think that’s inherent to me. I don’t think I can take credit. I don’t think I own it. I think I have access to it, if that makes any sense. And you asked about how it’s changed.
That’s another question. So I’ll say this: I’m 53 today. Okay. Here we go. So for a lot of the decades, I’d say I was driven by that energy. I was driven and pushed by it. Right? Like, can’t sit still, won’t sit still–can’t handle quiet. Always creating, always driving. And I think there was definitely the desire for truth and beauty that’s always been in me 100%. But there’s also been like a need– an absolutely almost existential need to do. Because let’s be clear; to not do– to be in that quiet space– felt horrible to me, right?
Not unusual. I didn’t invent any of these things. It is just my turn to say it and live it. As life has progressed, let’s say as I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to let my ego die and turn to ash and just follow the classic archetypal story of the Phoenix and rebuild, right? Like I joke, I was a house built in 1969, so as I rebuilt, we don’t need wet bars.
That’s out, the shag carpet’s out, you know what I mean?, and I can leave away like some of the moat that I had around me to separate me from everybody else. Right? And I can create like a quiet or internal environment. And what’s happening there is this is the coolest paradox ever. And of course, you could see it on a bicycle, Richard.
And I know you’re an ultra runner, Peter; Like, I know you know this. We all know this from our different things that we do. It’s like from that quiet, from that piece, you start to understand that that amorphous darkness that you thought was terror, that you thought was hell isn’t. I call it “the every nothing.” I call it the instant eternity– heaven.
Whatever we want to call it; that field is, I think, around all of us, and it’s a source of peace and inspiration both. And when we can connect to that, we’re not living with so much noise. We’re not having– I was like 26 with a frickin’ ulcer. It’s crazy. And I had fibromyalgia diagnosed back then. All that’s gone now, right?
And so what I can say is I still have that desire to create truth and beauty. I have access to more horsepower than I’ve ever had access to. But it’s not a need. It’s not an “I have to do this or else I feel like crap” anymore. It’s “I feel pretty good and I want to go make something awesome and I want to go serve somebody.” That’s the biggest change for me. It’s beautiful. And I think the quality of what I’m doing feels better.
I was talking to a friend recently, and she was talking about how she was trying to get out of that. Got to do. Got to do. Got to do, got to do, got to do. And just pondering like, why? Why can’t I just stop for a minute? And as we were talking about it, I said, Oh, you’re in the mindless pursuit of pursuit.
Like, what happens if you just sit still? You described it as you had to let the ego burn, to let that rise from the ashes. I’m wondering– that sounds drastic to me. Like if I’m talking to a friend like that who’s like, “I don’t know how to do it, I’m working on it. I’m trying it”. I’m wondering if you can rep your way into that or you gotta let it burn down?
That’s a– what a beautiful question. I’m going to quote one of my favorite spiritual teachers. Her name is Teal Swan.Teal Swan. She’s great. And she goes, “You know, I’d love to say there’s another way other than suffering, but I haven’t seen it.”
But, but I do think you can rep your way into these things for sure. Just like being a cyclist or a runner, if you will. I’m a new runner. I don’t know if you know, when I got the shoulders in place, I decided to become a runner. I’ve been a runner for six months now and I can go out for a half hour.
It feels great, you know, And I’ve been really, really, really gradual with it. Like a lot of one miles and 20 minutes in the beginning. It’s walking, right? And I suppose if you’re going to rep into it, then what you’re going to do and we talk a lot about thin slices, right? Like you can slice anything thin enough to get a win, can you not?
So then maybe if you’re just not used to being still, maybe you just set a timer for, I don’t know, 10 minutes, whatever comes through, talk to it, and then maybe the next day is 12. I mean, that’s a way– that’s a way. And it’s a lot more palatable than ego death. Ego death is not much fun.
Nope, Nope, nope, nope.Not fun. Those liminal states, too– like. I’m in a little bit of one with my work right now because, like, I, literally tore my body apart. I wore the cartilage off 20 years ago; off both sides. In the intervening 20 years during which I was the national champion, I took over an inch, inch and a half of bone off my shoulders.
I wore it down that much– like massive self-destruction. I will not do that again. I will not do that again. Now, I have created an identity for myself as Mr. Alpha Badass Mountain Bike Bro. Right? And I need to give it up. It needs to stop. And it’s uncomfortable, man. And when I’m in this stage of like, “I don’t want to be what I was, I can’t,” but I don’t have the full thing baked in yet.
That’s a scary place. And we know most men would just go back on it. So I feel like if you want to rep your way into these sorts of growth, I think the way to do it is just like starting anything is like small doses, right? Minimum effective dose, build, build, build, build. That make sense?
Totally makes sense. I’m thinking about, like, your story with just running a little bit longer every day or the advice to just set the ten minute timer. That ten minute timer allows you to experience discomfort in the same way that running a little bit longer, you experience the discomfort, and then, you know, at the end of it, you’re going to be ok.
You know, you’re safe.
Yeah. You can skill drill that a little bit, right? Like, how uncomfortable can I be and still feel safe?
Fair enough. That’s beautiful. And so like you said it beautifully. It’s like we all love movies, most of us. So one of the inherent parts of being a human is stories and games– is that fair to say? Stories and games– they’ve been going on for freaking ever. And so we all three can play Dungeons and Dragons, let’s say.
Of course, the Dungeon Master is going to be Richard. He’s in charge, right? And we all kind of take this construct on. And I used to play when I was interned in St Catherine’s. I had a little dwarf named Kerchak. He was like my man. Right? And so we go in a world where Kerchak is in danger, and you’re feeling all these things, but we know in a couple hours it’s over so we can experience these things and leave.
So I think you’re right. Like set the timer, right? And I think it’s less terrifying. And one thing I’ve started doing– well, life’s funny. So I was always compelled to figure stuff out and take complicated, scary, terrible things and make them simple and create processes to master them. I’ve done it with cycling in a very big way and in mountain biking specifically.
But years and years ago, I realized I’d lost my mind. I was in a bad spot, you know, the worst kind of depression. And I realized it and I was like, “Oh, right. All this skill I developed is not to help Richard corner better” although I think that’s beautiful, Richard. You corner, bro. It was to save myself.
And I applied the same exact principles, Peter, to remaking my own psyche, which was just to take a very simple thing. For example, a lot of us have negative self-talk. Well, everybody pretty much. So in the beginning it was so bad, it was changing how I saw the world. So it’s like 200 times a day, something negative will cross the transom and say “That’s not true.”
Replace it with something useful and true. 160 times a day, 40 times a day now, almost never. And we all get triggered, Right? But maybe that’s it. Like rep it out. And you know what? That’s a good case for a coach, right? Because wouldn’t the coach be the person who sort of like, manages the doses?
Manages the doses and I think also manages the reason for the doses. Right? Because I think a lot of times we come up with strategies to avoid discomfort. Like, what strategies do I need to take as a runner or as a mountain biker to not feel uncomfortable? And the real goal is how do I get more comfortable with being uncomfortable?
Thank you. Yeah. And also I found it actually very useful. And I do this with the people I work with as their coach. I’ll say, “All right, like we’re cornering right now. You’re terrified of cornering, but I want you to really consider and think and tell yourself I was terrified at cornering. I’ve been injured in corners, and I followed a process; and now I’m great at corners and I love corners.” And you tell yourself actively that the parts of me that learned to do this have nothing to do with mountain biking. They are universal. And if I can learn this, I can do anything. And I think it can’t hurt, Bro, just to make the conscious–and that’s a coach thing.
Like, like maybe you’re working with me and, you know, I’ve got this big talk, a TED talk, and I’m freaking out about it. You go, “Hey, Lee, dude, we just ran ten miles. Wow, You are so good. You’re so solid, and you never broke form. Imagine how you’re going to be–” You know what I’m saying? On your TED Talk. Like I think that’s a great role for a coach.
It’s like I think one of the things that we all tend to forget is the power of the why and why we’re doing these things and how portable all these skills are.
Lee, one of the things that I’ve seen you do really well in your coaching is create an environment or a context for somebody to practice something that they wouldn’t do naturally. And one of those things that comes to mind is your joyride rules, which really resonated with the people at our conference. You want to explain what that is and how that works?
Sure. So this comes from my work with people out in the field. And when you’re out mountain biking on crazy terrain, let’s say, all pretense goes away.
Whatever your character is that you do, these guys show up in their big trucks and they’re so blustery and macho. Well, three or four hours in, when you’re scared, we’ll find the broken little boy will come out. Right? And I’ll never forget this. The day this happened, like one of my clients, we’ll call him Justin, and he’s highly analytical and he’s doing great.
We’re out Saturday in Moab for one of our three day camps. He had a transcendent day. He had a transcendent day. Oh, my gosh. He was doing it perfect. He came by. We’re having our coaches meeting. We always assess what we do. We’re talking about how great he was doing. He drives up. We say, “Dude, that was awesome.”
And he goes, Then I get an email from the poor guy, “Lee, I need you to be honest. Am I always going to suck at mountain biking?” That’s the most transcendent day I’ve ever seen the guy have. “I just have to be honest, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on that,” and I was just like, “Whoa.” I got on the phone with the guy and what was coming out was his just basic lack of self efficacy and self love.
That’s what it was. It’s like the pervasiveness of his negative thinking overpowered a pure flow experience that day. And so, like day three we’ll take people on a really, really big technical, physical, dangerous, serious ride. And we’ll do an invocation at the top, right? A prayer. Right. And this came out. I said, “All right, guys, here’s what I can do today.”
And then the Joy Ride rules were born. So here we go, Rule one. And I guess, you know, Richard, this is great in like an Agile team or anywhere, right? And the rule one, if you see something cool, say something, be as specific and positive as you can. So I use bikes. So good would be, “Hey Richard, that was awesome.”
Better will be like “Peter that corner was awesome, man. That was sweet.” Best: “Richard. I saw your tires start to drift, and when you loaded your feet, your bike hooked up. That was glorious.” That’s rule one. These get harder as we go. Hopefully you’ve been practicing looking to other people and complimenting other people in specific and positive ways.
Then we go to the next level, which is One B. If you’re by yourself and you do something cool, you got to compliment yourself, man. And I call it a proclamation of awesome. If you watch my YouTube stuff, I’m always saying stuff, man. I’m good at this. Oh, that’s sweet. If you’re proclaiming your radness, you cannot ruminate on your badness.
Is that fair to say now? All right. So you’re getting used to compliments on other people and yourself, right? And it’s a skill. Rule 2: And you have to accept compliance. No. Self-deprecating. I’m sorry. No, deflections permitted. Like, you know, like someone gives you a pearl, don’t say “Na, na, na,” and then and then drop it in the mud. That’s not cool.
Accept the compliment. That’s hard. I mean, so many. I can only speak to men mostly because that’s why there’s so many men. Honestly, they might bristle on the outside, but they feel more comfortable. If I say, “Peter, you suck! What are you doing?” that feels more familiar to me than to say to you, Peter, you are a perfect slice of infinite perfection.
Ergo you two are infinitely perfect. But you don’t know what to do with that. Right? But we accept the compliment. And the third boy. Now it’s real. No self-deprecation is permitted out on the trail. No self-deprecation, only positive self-talk comes out of your mouth. Oh, boy. I’m getting better at it. I was with one of my coaches who used to work for me, and I asked him one day, I say, “Dude how am I doing with that?”
He’s like, Honestly, normal. Damn. 18 or 20 self-deprecating comments come out of your mouth. Seriously, dude, seriously? It’s that burned into us.. And the next day I got away with one and now it’s closer to zero. A is completely socially acceptable. Right? B, looking at you two. It’s a way for high functioning people to hide in plain sight. To not threaten the sheep because they don’t like people who seem smarter and more confident than them.
So we hide. And in these camps and in these situations, we don’t allow it. And we only speak positively about ourselves. And once you can get the hang of that, then we go into the self talk like the internal, right? which like I mentioned before– and then sometimes those are the basic joy ride rules and then they’re awesome.
And if you can just do it in your riding group, riding groups are perfect because it’s voluntary and it’s discreet. And that weekend we did it for the whole day. People were stoked. They all took it home. And if it works for you, take it home. You take it to work. In our crews and my riding crews, we play a game with it.
And one of the reasons that we talk smack on ourselves, one of the reasons we do this is it feels better if I say it, Peter, before you say it, right? We insult ourselves before you can insult us. And it just feels better in a weird way. So what I’ll do for the person who’s incalcitrant, that’s my word of the day, is I’ll say, “All right, Richard, I know what you’re doing. We’re going to play a game. You’re going to compliment you before I can. You can beat me to it. We’re going to do reverse male bro culture smack talk rules. We’re going to race to the compliment. We’re going to race to it. And if you’re not, if it doesn’t come out of your mouth, I’m going to beat you to it.”
And it’s interesting. Just to tweak how we think and like and with the guys I travel with, Dude, like you can choose your story as long as it works, and doesn’t hurt anybody, It’s a good story. So what we’ll do is like because, you know, guys often will just talk smack on each other and poke and poke. I hate that.
I think it’s massively toxic. It’s bad for everybody. So my friend, one of my coworkers and I, we were on a long road trip and we played the game of anti smack talk of complimenting your fellow brother so vehemently that you just can’t take it. You know.
Lee, I got to tell you, man, I came across this clip recently of John Cena, the wrestler. And he’s doing the same thing. He says, I call it positive smack talk. But they use the same tone and gestures that they would do, like if they were talking smack in the ring. And so, yeah, like, right up in your face. It was like [in a belligerent voice] “Lee, you’re the most awesome person I’ve ever seen. Now what are you gonna do about that?” It’s fantastic.
It’s so cool. It’s so cool. It’s beautiful. And the book that’s keeping me awake right now. That kept me awake last night. It’s coming out of me. The working title is Bro’s. It’s just going to be a big sans serif, all caps black B R O S: one nerd’s journey from non bro to bro to alpha bro to the anti bro.
Something like this. And it’s going to be about this stuff, this male cultural stuff that we do and kind of get into like what’s useful about it, what’s toxic about it, and how we can take these very, very, very normal human needs we have to set up dominance hierarchies and function with and within them and, you know, play games with that, but make it positive, you know, and make it serve us.
And of course, to serve self is to serve others is to serve all, I think.
Lee, what I see you doing with the joy ride rules in that story, and really any time you use that sort of thing now, is that you’re not shying away from the authority and power that you have as a coach– you’re using it to create a space where your clients can try on a new way of being, and if it’s weird, then “Well, I just get to blame it on Lee, because he told me this is the game we’re playing right now,” so you’re not shying away from the power you have there. You’re using it for the good of the group.
Thank you. Man, I love you. You’re just truly a special human being, my brother. You really are.. Dang! Yeah. Thank you. And I. I cannot stand another day being less than what I am.
I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I wasted time, man. I’ve been hiding too long. Too long. Right? And you know how I am, right? So last time we were in Moab, a bunch of these people show up. 14 people, strangers. They just think they’re going to learn how to corner and hit a jump or something. They show up.
We’re in the parking lot and I go, All right, everybody, welcome. And you’re right, I own it. And it’s interesting, especially guys, especially the guys who are at the top of their dominance hierarchies, the CEOs, the military officers; I see all these guys like they’re missing some of this in their lives, I think. And so they’ll show up.
I’ll say, “All right, welcome. Yeah, Peter, you’ll learn to corner. Don’t worry. We’ll get to that. Yes, Richard, you’re going to throw a big steezy whip off a 100 foot jump. That’s going to happen. But at 2:30, if you all follow the rules, the joyride rules and play along and I say, if you want to be the most selfish person here and get the most of this experience, you need to play the joy ride rules. You have to give love.
You need to give, give, give. You can get ten X back. This is not a zero sum game. This is an infinite sum game that we play. Mm hmm. And I say it with authority. I said at 2: 37 tomorrow afternoon, Depending on your perception of how the world works, we’re all going to slip into a glorious flow state together, group flow state state, or you’re going to see your version of God however you look at it.
Fine. Okay, fine. Next day, one of the most gruff alpha Eastern European CEO bros is not listening to me. He’s trying to show off. He’s doing dangerous things. I pull him aside, just the two of us. I go, “Look, dude (I have to look up. Right?) Hey, hey, listen to me. I go, Look, man, you are not doing what I say. You are not following the rules here and you make a choice. You either are out of here and I’ll prorate your thing, or you ride with us. And you do exactly what I tell you. No more. And by the way, this thing where I pay you a compliment and you dismiss it? No more.” I tell him I say, “You are not qualified to criticize your mountain biking. That’s my job, right? That’s my job. Right. And if I’m not giving you criticism, you are a perfect rainbow of love.” I said something like that.
This guy, and he’s like, “Okay, yes, sir.” And he’s and then we’re going. We’re riding.. It’s Alaska Trail up in Klondike. Plus beautiful rocky floats. Gorgeous, gorgeous sine wave of love, great full Jedi stuff.
And I hear him going, we wait and he stops and he’s got his elbows on the bar and he is having the cry he’s been holding in for 20 years. That one. He’s having the cry. He’s having the cry.
He’s like, “Damn you, Lee. You’re not just teaching me about biking, are you?” And I said, “No, sir, I don’t charge that much for biking. This is extra stuff.” And he’s like, “Well, you’re teaching me how to live.” And I was like, “Yeah.” And then one of the brothers in the back of the group, no kidding goes, Hey, it’s 2:37.
All I am is a vessel. I can’t do this. But you’re right. Thank you for observing that. Like, and when I’m understanding and this goes to the joyride rules it serves nobody to diminish ourselves. If I’m your coach, you need me to know what I’m doing and stand in my authority. And you trust me that I’m being honest and managing your safety. Right?
And so more and more like, I love what you said. I love it. I do. I stand in this authority, in this gentle, loving authority that I have.
So building on that. Lee, you’ve had extensive experience coaching a lot of different people in a lot of different settings. What other advice do you have for coaches and leaders who are trying to help people develop, particularly in a business context?
Well, I think the biggest thing I can say, that’s massively portable and useful, is work on yourself: is understand you. Right? And and to, as much as you can, understand what your ego is useful for– your sense of self.
You know “I’m Lee frickin’ McCormack” that part of you has its place. That’s the place that says I’m going to go get advanced coach training and own it. That’s useful, right? But also know when to set it aside and, I think, do the work– the internal work, so you can be quiet enough to really connect with your people.
And I believe this, like I see this in different areas. It’s like my partner is a really high level body worker. And yes, she’s mechanically and technically the best around, but she’s also a deeply embodied soul. So when you’re with her, you feel seen, you feel heard, you feel understood. And I think that’s where the nitty gritty coaching happens.
And unfortunately, that’s like the hardest stuff for a person to do. But I think that’s kind of a place most people are afraid to go. And I think that’s setting low ceilings for most people; coaches too.
I’ll try and channel it, because I don’t think I believe it. But I think what I pick up is that, come on, this is work. Like we’re here to make a dollar. We’re here to increase profits,
And how is that related to getting the work done? Because, like you said, man, it’s painful, it takes work, it takes time, it takes effort. And from like a broader human development perspective, I think people get it. “Yeah, I can see how that would be useful to me as a human. But when I’m at work, if I go up and express vulnerability to the people that report to me, they’re not going to trust me any more– I don’t see how I can really do this type of practice at work.” What’s your response to that? I don’t know if you agree that that theme exists in the business world.
Well, it exists in the mountain bike world too, Dude. Yeah it’s human nature, right, and and I feel like I feel like that ego part of us; that part that only exists to keep us separate and safe, right, hates quiet– Hates quiet.
What would my ego do if I realized that Richard and I are completely equal human beings with different skill sets? How would I manage myself? You know what I’m saying? A lot of us have a hard time releasing that, right? And so. Okay, let me go to bikes: So like, one thing I like about teaching people on the bicycle is it’s voluntary and it’s discrete and it’s just bikes. It’s not that big a deal.
And you can prove to somebody. I mean, Richard knows this well. We’ve been here that like getting you to relax and have some faith and and feel the joy and the love and just get in my wake of joy and inhale. The pixie dust makes you faster, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s obvious, isn’t it? And so maybe like and so then like, if I were your business coach, and you’re mine, then we could take that lesson across. And so one of the things I’ve been curious about doing is these embodied experiences with business leaders where they’re just out of their mind, they’re in their bodies, that they’re doing a community thing and they can start to see and feel in their bodies that releasing that false sense of self and need to control and stuff like that actually leads to success.
And maybe that’s a way to rep that out. I mean, what do you think?
I think the thing that might make it harder in a business context is that often the results you get take a long time because I’ve seen this happen on teams, on business teams, but on a business team, like you said, with a bike squad, it’s like everybody’s there voluntarily.
We’re hanging out for a couple of hours or we’re hanging out for a few days and then we go away. With a business team. I may not have chosen to be on that team. I might have chosen the assignment to work on this product. And so you have people who are kind of thrown together only by one definition is it voluntary.
Right. Because, yes, I volunteer to stay working here, but maybe sometimes grudgingly or it feels like an obligation, right? So, sometimes it takes a long time to feel the pixie dust. And I have 100% felt it on work teams. Right? We’ve felt it on the Humanizing Work team. But in big companies, it has taken a while to build, and, it’s fleeting, like because tomorrow there might be a reorg and these people that I’ve just spent years learning to love and work with, now they just all went to different teams and now I’m in a new family all of a sudden, right? So it feels like it’s a longer lead time to get the payoff, right? And the payoff is the thing that reinforces it. And I think what you’re describing on this Moab trip is like, in two to three days almost everybody feels it. And it’s motivating enough to give up.
Totally. So let me ask the question. I learned the term “thin slice” from that dude up in a corner right there, that guy like, okay, yeah. So like, well, I’ve written a bunch of books. I’ve written 11 books.
Like, that’s hard. Or the first one‘ll get you. I gave myself shingles like I had survived daily newspapers and the dot com without shingles. And then I quit to write a book. Then I knew what stress was, right? You can’t write a book. You write a lot of short essays that kind of go together.
So I tried my best to do like a corporate thing like you guys do pretty recently, right? And you could just tell the CEO is just like “They gotta have fire in their belly.”
I’m like, “Why?”
“Well, I want to make $500 million next year and I just moved into a $4 million house. And all I can say is I’m mad that it’s not eight.” He wanted them to have fire in their bellies to serve him. That’s what it was. And I and we all frickin’ knew it. So the way I and I’m going to ask– I’m going to pose this as a question, right? Like, a year is too long for a human to even plan.
So how can we make every day– No, sorry, every interaction– pleasant. Right. And one thing that I love is the frickin’ joy rules. Because I could be having a garbage day. But if I go, you know, man, I love I love the way those speakers behind you, Peter, they look like rabbit ears, kind of. That’s cool. I just gave myself a little smile and a little dopamine like I see there it is. It’s antenna.
But I wonder, I mean, ask you guys the question like. Like instead of having these big, amorphous, crazy goals, like you say, like when I was at Alta Vista, that we would work and work and work and work and work, change of direction– end project. And then and what I learned there was it’s what am I doing right now?
What am I doing right a second? I’m making a flowchart for a product that probably will never see the light, but I’m going to do a danged, good job of it. Put my name on it. So maybe that’s my question to you guys. How can you make it smaller, so everybody is getting their hits of dopamine and oxytocin throughout the day?
Your joyride rules are process goals, not outcome goals. It’s like you’re going to do the thing and you’re going to be successful when you do the thing and you’re not actually promising anything about the outcomes that it produces. They do produce outcomes because they’re a good set of rules. It’s a little bit like, you know, writing every day or something where you’re not trying to sit down and write a book.
You’re trying to move forward on something by just getting the words out. Did I get some words out? I was successful
Totally. Like all writers say that, right? Just be that, be at the desk. And when the muse hits, you’re there and you have the skillset to capture it, right? But maybe that’s kind of it. Like, it’s trying to create– make each moment a complete moment and an intrinsically pleasurable experience.
What do you think, Peter
I’m thinking about the tension between trying to make every moment or interaction pleasurable and what we talked about earlier with being more comfortable with discomfort. Because I think there are times when we have to have the hard conversation and we need to bring this up and we need to say what’s true to us. And I think there are ways that you can do that in a way that’s still of service to other instead of service to self.
But it’s not always super pleasurable in that moment. You do have to recognize that there is an end goal, a longer term goal that if I don’t say this now, it’s going to eat me up or it’s going to hurt other people. So that’s what I’m kind of noodling. I don’t know if I have an answer.
You’re not making it pleasant, you’re making it good.
Thank you. Maybe we got three decent brains here.
I struggle with the language that we have. Good, bad, right? And of course running is not always pleasant, is it? No, but it’s always good. So maybe, maybe that’s it. Like to try to make sure that whatever we’re doing is taking us in a direction we all want to go?
And like you said, like, and like Richard said, like, and maybe sometimes we have to do these intervals of hard conversations. But with the understanding that– remember, like, we have all these different states of feeling. And again, I’m sorry, all we have is the language we have. So I’m going up, down, you know, but like, we all identify with this as fun, right?
We all love this. This is what we live for. And anything below this line of stasis, we consider bad. But these mind states have use. Like when I’m up here, I’m frenetic, I’m disorganized, I’m highly, highly creative. It’s fun; but I’m not process oriented. And that’s not the time for me to bang through a bunch of work emails, right?
So if I go do a camp for three days, I spend three days in this state, just at one with the universe doing the thing, I’m going to be equally down the next three days. That’s just how it works, man. And then to not judge that as bad or depressed and I didn’t know this as a young man. I go win some huge race on Sunday. And Monday was a low day and I thought my life sucked and I had the wrong job.
No, Bro, you’re out of dopamine. That’s what that is. Right. And so maybe we have a way to celebrate. Hey, here we all are. Okay. We all worked really hard last week to make that deadline. We’re all beat. This a good time to have a nice, quiet planning session.
Is that fair to say? And understand that this is not– it’s just different,
Yeah. The term that’s come to me for the dip is like a good dip is peace and quiet. And that phrase is said kind of flippantly, a lot. “I need some peace and quiet.” No, but, like, if you had real peace and real quiet for a few days, that’s not high energy.
It might not even feel positive at first, like we were talking about earlier because of the mindless pursuit of pursuit. Right? I can’t pursue anything right now because I don’t have the energy. Therefore, something’s broken. If I were to think of that as now is a time of peace and quiet and recovery, then I might be able to frame that differently. Right? Just to have a different perspective on it.
I think there’s something to that. Right? And like I’m all about bike analogies. We all love to jump through the air. You’re weightless, but all of the propulsion and drive comes from the trough. All of it. And and in a very literal way, the more aggressively you drive into the down state, the more you own that, the more you generate power through that, the lighter you get.
Like, that’s just straight up Newtonian mechanics. And wouldn’t it be cool, though, like, if we you know, I’m not going to say, wouldn’t it, because I’m on a mission. I look forward to normalizing these sorts of conversations. I look forward to giving people the language and the habits to say “How was today?” Every day is– I don’t even like the word good.
We’ll call it good. Really. Was everything perfect? No, we had some dark– Richard and I had a tough conversation, but it led to a new place and okay, I’m asking a question. I have a vision. We have this simultaneous bifurcation of timeline. I’m using big words. On one hand, we can thin slice, can’t we?
And we can go as thin as we need to to get success no matter what it is. And on the other hand, we can go way, way, way, way, way out in time scale and see the overall flow and understand that every little dip and dippy, dippy dip is going to be amortized and flattened out over time.
Yeah. I’m thinking about– I’m not looking for a pleasurable moment. I’m not looking for a pleasurable day or or even a fun day. I’m looking for a meaningfully human day or a meaningfully human moment. Then it can be tense, and fraught and full of fear, or it can be joyous and energetic and full of connection– both of those really define human experience. It’s the poles, right? How high can you jump, how low can you trough?
Totally. Totally. And I know that, like I mean, I’ve been in companies. It’s like I mean, the people setting the quarterly goals might not see the universe that way, but like, look what I tried to tell when I was at that company, I was like, Look, you guys are all here. I wish the CEO wasn’t in the room.
Honestly, it’s like he’s dragging them all back in, you know, He wants them all in his office. And while you’re all here, for whatever reason, you know, like you can, it can be highly unpleasant or it can be useful to you, right? And so just conduct yourself like you’re saying. I like it. Would you say a meaningful human moment?
Is that what you said? Meaningfully human moment, dude? Right? And that includes laughing and crying. I was with a guy– I had a meeting just before this guy was coming on the team. My age, our age. And, you know, I’m talking to the guy and this is what happens when I talk to people here and the armor came off.
He put his sword and armor on the table and had the cry he’d been needing. Right? And he was like apologizing. I was like, “Do you laugh? Yeah. Then why can’t you cry, Bro? Like what the heck? You know, they go together, man. I love it. Meaningful human. I love that meaningfully human. Gorgeous.
And so, like, I got to share this. So, like, in terms of effectiveness, right? I’m a mountain bike racer. I was one and it’s all the time that’s the metric how fast you go from A to B down some crazy trail. And Richard, I think you’ve ridden Hall Ranch before right up in Lyons. You know, the front side, the rocky part. I used to be the king of the mountain. I was the fastest person on that done years and years ago, like in my mid thirties. Well two seasons ago I went after doing some big personal work and I went in just joy and love and me with no shoulder joints. And I’m faster now, straight up, faster now. Effortlessly, faster now. And what I’m discovering is that the power isn’t here.
This is minuscule, this is minuscule. And I feel like one of the missions here is to use this for what it’s useful for, which is not that much, honestly, and then release it. And I think we’re deathly afraid. I’m going to use the first person plural, people like us who have forged our place in this universe through intellect.
Right. It’s pretty scary to let it go. Right? And it becomes our identity and becomes our safety. Like I’ll admit it. I’ve had to be the smartest guy in the room for too long. Over it, Over it. I’m not. Not. But if we can let that go, then we can start to really realize our power, right? You know, and I think really, like in any sort of creative pursuit, writing software, come up with some kind of business solution. We all know. Does the solution come when people are beating themselves up at the meeting room? It’s in the shower, it’s on the run
How is this version of you showing up in your work hours these days, Lee?
Well, when I show up to be a bike coach now, you know, one thing I don’t have anymore. I don’t bring a bike. I don’t bring a bike.
I don’t even bring one. We’re not here for you to see how good I am at biking. I mean, be clear, I loved going, “Watch this. Check this out.” Yeah, unnecessary. And it gets in the way. So that’s one way. I don’t even have a bike.
I gotta stop you there. I want to hear the rest of the answer to this question, but can you tell us about that transition? How did you start leaving the bike behind, and what had to happen within you to do that? And maybe in your clients.
Well, here’s a real answer, right? Here’s two answers. Here’s the good one, good one, the juicy one. I set up a set of principles in my mind and in my heart, that said, “When you are the national champion, when you beat all these Alpha brothers over here, you are going to be the mega alpha bro, and you will be safe and you will be valid.”
Right? And I did it and I went to Worlds that year and I made one little mistake. I wasn’t ready to hear the announcer say I was on the winning time and I made a little mistake. But if I go again, I’m going to be like, “Of course I’m on a winning time! I’m Lee frickin’ McCormick. Why are you even telling people? we all know it.”
But, you know, I wasn’t there. I wasn’t there yet. And so, like, it’s the fallacy. It’s the pursuit of the false God. Honestly, it’s like how many people have said I got to make 100, which is nothing anymore. 100 K And they get there like, I’m still miserable. 200 K. It’s like that CEO I work with. He’s just mad that he only has 190 employees, not a thousand.
He’s mad at that. And so it’s like I achieved what I thought was going to make everything awesome. And guess what wasn’t awesome? Everything. Just wasn’t, right? And then I started to fall apart. And I personally, and this is archetypal– This is the hero’s journey, man. It’s been done a million times through history. I had to suffer.
I had to realize that wasn’t going to work. I had to live in the hole that was left. And I’m a lucky guy because I was able to get through it with love power intact and maybe even more powerful than ever. And then to start to see that, you know what it is? Once you’ve done a 100 mile foot race, right, Peter, you’re like, “Damn, I can do anything,” right?”
It’s pretty hard. A 100 mile bike race is hard, but you get to sit down and coast Bro, you know, it’s way worse. But you know, and it’s like that experience of like, I have looked into the chasm. I have looked into the darkest of my darkness. The thing I was most terrified of, the thing I completely built my existence around staying away from. And guess what? It didn’t hurt. I’m okay. And you know what else? It’s actually a source of infinite strength. And I think honestly, that’s kind of where it gets to the point of like, yeah, I can corner. If you want to see me corner, I’ll show you. But it’s not essential. I’m here to serve. I’m here to serve.
I’m here to serve. And I’ll tell you another thing. When I was in the hole, when I was at the darkest of the darkness and I’m not shy, I’ll talk to anyone. I’ll tell anyone anything they want to know what that means. I made a promise. I was raised as a Catholic. So I see, I call God right now the Holy Oreo and Amorphous because no one’s offended by that.
But I saw the white bro with the beard and the robe, the one I grew up with. And I said to him, I said, okay, man, now I’m desperate. Now I’m begging for help. Is this archetype or what? It’s laughably common, the story I’m going to tell. And I said, “All right, man, if you help me through this, I promise I will dedicate my life to spreading the word.”
I’ve made the promise. I’m going to do my darndest to keep it. So then you, again, like you’re just relieved of your armor and weapons. And I feel like it came to a point where I’m like, I’m here to serve. I’m here to serve, and I’m way more effective at serving when I’m not trying to show off.
Well, yeah. And it reminds me of, like, when somebody loses a sense, somebody goes blind, somebody goes deaf, the other senses get heightened. And as a coach, we have all these different skills that we’re kind of dancing between, to say, what skill do I need to bring forward right now? What needs to go to the background a little bit right now?
And I can see how being able to demonstrate it on the bike, A), taps into that ego hit. But B), that might cause you to use that when one of the other skills would have been better and you wouldn’t have even known it.
That’s why you make the big bucks. Peter Green. Right? right! So now I’m out there with no bike. And you know what I have now I have running shoes. And instead of riding from place to place, I run right? And so, you know, I run. I jog. We’ll call it a jog right now.
Right? You’re right. And so I’m trying to, like, express this kinesthetic kinetic thing with words and with feeling. And you’re right, it makes me work harder, but it’s effective. And I went out to the East Coast and I coached over two days, 50 people. I didn’t bring a bike. No one missed it. No one missed it. You’re right. Well-played. And then, the second answer to what I say…
Hang on, hang on. I noticed a self-deprecation there, Lee. I want to call you out on it.
What did I say?
Because it’s one that I used for a couple of years when I started running. When I’d be out in all my gear, about to run 8 miles, and somebody would say, “Oh! You’re a runner!” I would say “No. I’m not a runner. I’m a stubborn jogger.” Because I wasn’t comfortable with the identity of “I’m a runner.” And I just heard you say “I go out there and run,” then you said, “Oh, no- no. I jog.”
Okay. Thank you, Coach.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. See, we all need a coach. Dude. I didn’t even notice it. See, you’re right. I’m running. I’m running. And my legs don’t hurt. Beautiful. Thank you. I needed that. Clearly.
All right, reason two:
My shoulders are destroyed. Destroyed. They’re done. I went and saw the doctor, and he was like, You’re so funny.
He walks in. He’d seen the films of these destroyed shoulders. Like the balls on the top of the humerus aren’t round. They’re just like, barely there. He walks in and he sees me sitting there in shape. He goes, So where’s the patient? And the PR is like, right there. He’s like, “What?” And I saw and I knew I’d worn them out.
I knew they were bad. But you guys, when you see the film, when you see that you have worn over an inch of bone off each side because, let’s be clear, my friends, that hurt less than the emotional stuff I couldn’t deal with at the time. That’s staggering. And I swore I would never do that to myself again.
And the last race I did, and it turned out, by the way, so this collarbone has been broken for 20 years. And it turns out that the broken shards are buried in the trapezius muscle with the nerves wrapped around them, it turns out, So I can be forgiven for being a little achy sometimes. And I was doing this 50 mile race last summer on July 4th, and I was up there and I have expectations like to win.
I was doing it with a teammate. I expected to put him on the podium and I’m out there and it started to hurt you guys. I didn’t know exactly what the structure was doing, but let me just tell you, like we’re all athletes, we know pain. That’s another level. And I’m out there by myself climbing this mountain around 10,000 feet.
It’s starting to rain. And I’m like, I’m in extreme physical pain and I’m highly disappointed in myself. I was like, “That’s not a good way to spend the rest of the day, is it? Nope. So what’s here? What am I missing?” Right? And it came through. It’s like, “Lee, you’re a tough bro. You’re tough, boy. You can withstand anything from now on.
You will never use that capacity to hurt yourself ever again. You will use that capacity to do the hard things to serve self, other, all.”
Talk about archetypes, man. You went up to the mountain…
I know it’s classic. It’s classic. I know, I know. It’s like I’d love to say this is an original story, but it’s not, man. It’s not an original story.
It’s been done
So, you know, you’re out coaching without a bike. You’re coaching bikers without a bike. What else are you doing?
Rip Row. So I invented this piece of equipment. In the beginning it was to teach what was for myself because I was losing use of my shoulders, to understand how bikes should fit bodies and to really deeply understand the biomechanics. Well, Richard has one. He uses one
I do. I love it.
It’s a beautiful tool. And that’s where it came from. But very much like the way a concept two rowing machine was invented for rowers, but it’s become a staple in gyms everywhere, the Rip Pro is also a full chain functional universal movement trainer. It has a row phase and an anti row phase. When you row, it’s your full posterior chain. Everything as a unit. Hamstrings, butt, back, core, everything. And the opposite, it’s everything in the front of your body. So it’s a full body workout and, because the movements, (I mean you can do it really basically or very complicatedly, I invented it so I’m pretty good at it) and I’m deep, and, I consider it kind of an embodiment tool. I’m not going to do an app anytime soon.
I want people to feel their bodies and it’s full chain. And so what we’re doing is I just oh yeah, you guys appreciate this. So I’ve done agile development for a long time in software, right? When I started Rip Row, I started with the Agile philosophy, right? I had the idea– I had actually a dream. I had the flu in this cheap motel with the A.C. off in Tucson, 120 degrees in there.
And I think God was like, “Okay, it’s time to give this guy, throw this guy a treat.” And he showed me the vision pretty much. I think I’d suffered enough and I was given the insight. And so the first prototype was just a metal plate with an arm that went back and forth like a handlebar. You might have probably seen it, I’m sure I probably showed it to you. Yeah you used it.
Yeah, we have a picture of Dawn using it in her full downhill gear, and we were joking about training for your race. I don’t remember how that happened, but I remember the picture.
Yeah, totally. That was straight MVP and it made the point, Oh, this makes sense. Then I’m like, Well, I need to add resistance. So I started adding bands and I’d attach it to like something in the garage. And as I became stronger, I would go flying across the room. Yeah. So then version three, this is my favorite one.
I was at the hardware store and McGuckin is like Ace hardware. They must have something in here that’s useful. I saw garage door springs all hanging there. I was, Oh yeah, Yeah. So it’s an eight foot long contraption with carabiners and stuff and here’s, no kidding– a garage door spring for resistance, Super agile, right? And then I went to the same idea, but smaller using rubber bands.
And then we lost Agile and I brought in a designer and we kind of lost it and he made it awesome and beautiful and expensive and hard to make. And the retail on that thing was $1,600 bucks and we sold about a thousand of them. Good for us. But I said to myself, This is a beautiful tool. It serves people because my role is to serve.
That’s my job. This is one of the ways I serve– is creating this machine. So we went back to the drawing board. I don’t know what you call this reverse Agile development. And I said, okay, what features are necessary, what aren’t? And I redesigned it and V2, my friends, has reduced the retail from $1,599.
I’m happy to tell you the new one is $849. Half the price, same margin.
So we’re like getting that dialed. We just finished the first production run, the first few hundred I built in my garage. I can’t do that anymore. So we go from production facility to three PL; third party logistics. We’re working all this out and now we’re getting ready to go big, man. I think it’s time for me to get paid on this little project.
It’s been eight years. It’s just been an uncomfortable hobby for eight years and I’ve been doing that. And then the coaching is changing. I’m doing more and more like I haven’t been on– Oh, we talked about this at the first humanizing work I went to, remember, I was in your class because I wanted to make an online mountain bike school, which is a very new concept at the time.
And then Richard helped me kind of like MVP it and I did the proof of concept. Guess what? It’s proven. So it’s time to refactor it and make it better. It’s been paying the bills while I’m not–Been off the bike. That’s happening and I’ve got like books and books and books coming out of my brain: through my brain.
So I’m working on Bro’s right now. This is going to be about male kind of bro culture, honestly, you know, that’s what I’m up to and trying to be. No, not trying. Sorry. Working vehemently to be the cleanest version of myself I can be.
Lee, where can people find you and your work online if they want more?
Lee Likes Bikes is easy. It all comes from there; yep.
Lee, thank you.
You guys are welcome. That was a great chat. You guys asked the best questions. Thank you. Namastoke.