The period leading up to a new role, project or event is an exciting time. The anticipation and excitement is enveloping as thoughts of the unknowns run free. How can this energy be best channelled for optimum performance upon arrival?
Berlin Rail Clock
These last weeks the countdown to a new event in a new environment and new location sparked a raft of thinking and additional preparatory activities.

The Tour de Bintan is a stage cycling race over two days on Bintan Island, Indonesia. Apart from the ‘normal’ sports training to reach optimal condition which remains ongoing, the ability to arrive adequately prepared mentally, physically and knowledgeably, maybe even experientially is oft-overlooked in the single-minded focus on competition.

The approach to Tour de Bintan has been multi-layered and is little different to the approach applied to joining a new organisation.

To reach a positive mental state and develop the hunger for the new challenge, a certain amount of time is devoted to reviewing previous experiences and looking forward to the new application of energy. Lessons learned are acknowledged, strengths and weaknesses are assessed with a sanity check on progress areas and targets for continued development. Periods of reflection may be balanced with engagement in experiences that stimulate the senses, especially ones that may be put on hold in the start-up period. Perhaps it’s a swim at the beach, maybe a gallery visit, a few idle hours at the library or a nature walk. Experiences that rejuvenate the mind and are not likely to be easily accessible once the new role, project or event has begun.

Maarq Paconi Houffa Custom and Vetta Lime Splice

Mental ease may also be built from developing a structure around identifying what information can be gathered and absorbed, what will be needed early-on and later in the period and locating the appropriate sources.

For Tour de Bintan, a review of the performance and lessons learned at a similar event ‘Tour of Friendship’ Thailand highlighted the volume of electrolyte concoctions consumed and rehydration requirements for tropical conditions, vital reminders after a cool six months in Melbourne. Swimming at the beach was not on the agenda, but quiet time at the local library was a great source of fresh mental stimulation.

Objectives and Challenges
Before a new project or event even became the target, a personal objective was likely stirring the source of the new challenge. Identifying the underlying and explicit objectives will help shape the approach and assist in creating a strategy or at least a plan for what’s coming next. By understanding the motivations behind the challenge and identifying the objectives it’s possible to generate some expectations around what is hoped to be achieved, what can be achieved and what may not be achieved. By formalising and even communicating these expectations to others, be they involved or not, will cement the reality of the challenge and test it!

Racing this time again as a member of the ANZA Mavericks cycling team, it’s been critical to coordinate with the Team Manager to ensure expectations for the race are known and understood.

ANZA Mvericks Tour of Friendship R1 2011 Thailand Prologue

In the lead-up, it’s not just about access to people who can tell you first-hand information, perhaps they’ve raced before or maybe they’ve reccie’d the course recently. Maybe they’re a previous employee, or current, of the organisation you’re about to start. There’s also the support network who are keen to share in your new challenge and potential success, family, friends, colleagues, partners. They’re just as invested!

For the Tour de Bintan, it’s a deep-dive into the course information, competitor details, race schedule, results history, Garmin or Strava files, previous race reports, news stories, local environment conditions reports. For a new role it may be company information, performance history, share trading information, key personnel data, company reports, news results, magazine articles, case studies, current or previous employees. Knowledge assists to create a picture of the world about to be entered. How many times would you swing open a door and walk right through with no prior knowledge of what’s on the other side?

TdB Stage 1 Profile
Tour de Bintan Course Profile Stage 1 2011

RIO Share Price 6 months
RIO Tinto 6 Month Share Price 2011

Once armed with a body of knowledge and frame of mind ready to tackle your new project, perhaps the most trying element is to replicate the actual environment you’ll be faced with. Recently a study of the effects of long-term space travel was completed, assessing what astronauts may face whilst undertaking a 520 day trip to Mars. They didn’t leave the carpark, but they’re well placed to know first-hand what it feels like to be isolated for that long. Bintan Island reported potential temperatures of up to 45c recently, not likely in Melbourne’s Spring but closely replicated in a gym steamroom to aid adaptation. Perhaps you’re about to take up a post with a multi-site retailer, what better way to know what happens than to walk into a store?

The preparatory period will be different for everyone and some areas more important than others; what else can be done to achieve optimum performance in your new challenge?

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