Positive Life Lessons from “Fat Boy – Express”

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail better.”
Samuel Becket

I came across a guy riding a bike the other day, and he had a yellow riding jersey with “Fat Boy – Express” written on the back. So, of course, when I saw the guy stopping to take a break I had to stop and talk. He explained the meaning of the jersey he created. “Fat Boy” is for the abstract anatomical weight of a middle aged man who has a larger waist than he wants. “Express” was the attitude that he possess. In short, “Fat Boy” is for weight, “Express” is an attitude. In reality as he continues to ride he loses weight and his speed continues to increase. But, “Fat Boy Express” is more of analogy for someone who will not give up; that failure does not mean quick, it simply means to get up and do it better next time.

It all started when his doctor told him he had to get in shape, or he would die years earlier than he should. He had problems with weight all of his life. As a child he was ridiculed by the other kids for being different. Now it is life or death, not simply teasing. He realized he couldn’t run the weight off; his knee and ankle joints couldn’t take the relentless pounding. He joined a gym, but found cardio machines boring. One day a friend recommended he try biking. To his amazement, he really enjoyed going out and riding. He saw things around him, at a slower speed, that most people never notice riding 55 mph in their cars. He said it felt great to get back to nature even if he was just passing through at 10 mph. He used to be terrified of large hills, knowing they would wear him out and leave him gasping for air. He had seen the Tour de France and saw how hills wear out even the best trained athletes.

He began to look for new ways to develop self-motivation and learn how to overcome those “hills in his life”. Then one day he changed his outlook on hills, and on life. When you change your perspective on something, what you are looking at also changes. He had already begun to transform his life when he changed his attitude about exercising and found an activity he was beginning to love. Now, he set out to change his attitude towards hills. They were no longer challenges to be feared, they are opportunities to be experienced and overcome. He used each hill as a test of his ability to first create and then test a strategy to defeat the hill. He would determine how much speed he would need as he approached the bottom of the incline. He would predetermine the best time to switch gears. What combination of gear changing would he use, the front or rear gears first. He would stay on the seat as long as possible; because once you get off to pump your legs you actually lose momentum. As his strategies developed he began to look for larger hills to “attack”. It was now a war between him and the terrain. With each hill defeated another victory racked up. Riding helped him develop the attitude that he could overcome all challenges. He began to lose weight and his co-workers noticed it. They began to encourage him to ride and ask him where he had ridden over the weekend or after work. On a day he felt down and did not want to ride, his coworkers first encouraged and then “ordered” him out for ride. His co-workers were beginning to feel the same pride of “Fat Boy – Express” after a long grueling ride. “Fat Boy – Express” made the connection between who he is and who he could become. He recreated a positive outlook on life. His mantra became, “If he can do it, anyone who is willing can do the same thing in their lives.”

Very few people are gifted at everything, and most people have something they struggled with during their life. It could be a weight problem like “Fat Boy – Express”, shyness around people, difficulty with math or science in school, or a host of other physical or mental problems. Success or failure is not if you have a problem, but your willingness to try and overcome the problem. Like “Fat Boy – Express”, once you change how you look at something then the things you look at change. Challenges become opportunities to rack up victories. Small victories add up to life altering events. “Fat Boy – Express” will soon loose enough weight that his jersey will be considered false advertising, but he will never change it. It is a reminder of his past challenges and the changes in his attitude that helped him transform into a new person today. In the end, we are all “Fat Boy – Express”. We all have the opportunity to transform our lives; the question is when we are ready to take the first step. “Fat Boy – Express” became a leader to many, not because he began to ride a bike and transform his life, but though the changing of his mindset. Remarkably, he moved from being a victim of life’s circumstances to the man who realized anyone can conqueror the problems in their own lives. If you have what you think is an insurmountable problem you can overcome it. Try to come up with a solution. If it fails, try again. If it fails again try a different tactic. Try harder. By taking the first step you begin to realize success. You will come up with the correct solution and that will transform your life.

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