Life lessons from an ebike tour - Kathy Varol

Life lessons from an ebike tour


I was recently in Portugal to give a keynote for PepsiCo’s SodaStream division.

After the conference, my husband and I spent some time in Douro Valley, Portugal’s Port and Wine country.

Imagine this: a breathtaking tapestry of rolling vineyards and quaint villages. Eager to soak in the beauty of the picturesque landscape, we embarked on an ebike tour with six fellow travelers, each with their own sense of adventure.

Among us, however, was a guest who was on a different wavelength. A seasoned biker, he mistook our leisurely ebike tour for the Tour De France. He surged ahead, leaving the rest of us trailing in his dust—including his wife, who wasn’t comfortable on a bike, and the guide.

As we wound our way through the vineyards, I couldn’t help but marvel at how his relentless pursuit of “winning” the ebike tour caused him to miss out on the true essence of the experience—the camaraderie, the laughter, the shared moments of awe at the beautiful scenery. Not to mention a lost opportunity to support his wife while sharing his love of biking with her.

When we assume we need to show our value as a human by competing with everyone around us, that mindset travels into every part of our life…even with complete strangers on an ebike tour. Even between husband and wife.

It was a reminder of how a fixation on competition can blind us to the beauty of the journey, and to the needs of those around us.

Reflecting on this encounter, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the world of business. Too often, we view competition through a narrow lens, fixating on our direct rivals and the pursuit of market dominance. We focus on “taking” market share. If more people have 3 stripes on their shoes than swoosh marks, that’s the clear sign of winning.

But what if we shifted our perspective?

What if we stopped seeing our direct competitors as other companies? What if we all saw threats to humans and the planet as our direct competitors? What if we viewed climate change as the biggest competitor of all? After all, if climate change makes the world uninhabitable, there will be no humans to run businesses.

A villain that can create an out-of-business sign for everyone seems like a pretty compelling threat.

By reframing our concept of competition, we can unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. Instead of hoarding resources and guarding our turf, we can come together as allies, pooling our talents and expertise to address the challenges that transcend industry boundaries.

In essence, we are all riders on the same journey, navigating the twists and turns of an ever-changing landscape. And while there may be moments of rivalry and competition along the way, our true strength lies in our ability to unite in pursuit of a common goal that’s worthy of our creativity and energy.

What would it feel like to cast aside the shackles of narrow-minded competition and fix our sights on a more compelling and formidable opponent? What if we were all on the same team?

In more ways than not, we are. But we so often lose sight of that. Focused on “winning” the wrong race, or in the case of the ebike tour, a race no one else has entered.

Together, we can chart a course towards a brighter, more sustainable future—one where success is measured by our collective impact on the world.

In the vineyards of Douro Valley, amidst the whir of ebike wheels and the scent of ripening grapes, I learned a valuable lesson: that true victory lies not in a solo journey outpacing others but in journeying together towards a shared destination.

Site Design Rebecca Pollock
Site Development North Star Sites