Innovative Concepts

Perceived Exertion

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Measuring athletic performance provides a variety of measurement tools and scales.  A cycling computer might give the user the following data fields:

  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Cadence
  • Power Output
  • Elapse Time
  • Elevation Climbed
  • Ranking on Strava Section
  • Calories Consumed
  • GPS Map

We can quickly assess our performance in real-time and measure it against numerous indicators.  What the data cannot readily reveal is the perceived exertion.  There may be hints, elevated heart rate on a scorching hot day, reduced cadence grinding into a relentless headwind, slower average speed riding a freshly chip sealed road. Perceived exertion matters.  If we are not prepared to suffer our impression and memory of the workout can be negative and even haunting.

How does the monitoring of sports data equate to the social sector?  How many times have we not shared all the relevant details when recruiting a volunteer, committee member, or member for the board?  It is easy to focus on the inspirational parts of the work.  What happens when reality hits?  When the board member who missed the preschool class on taking turns wrestles control of the meeting with a full-throated demand?  Or the committee that must work overtime in order for the annual gala to succeed?  If we do not prepare our team members for what they will likely encounter, the perception of their work and its impact can be rattled.  

Let us be honest as we pitch our enterprises to those willing to support the cause.  We can prepare ourselves for the extremes with an advance warning but it is too late when we are caught off guard.  Perceived experiences matter,  even when the data looks excellent.

What Happened?


Not every boarding pass gets us on a plane.  We take for granted that a rectangular piece of paper with an airline logo printed in the corner allows us to board.  What assumptions once re-examined might be transformative?  How often do we pause in the middle of everyday activities to consider all that operate smoothly for us to advance without complication?  One warning light can delay a flight for hours, even when the non-cooperating part appears to be less than vital.  What is essential for your journey?  Who have we taken for granted?

Alone on the Edge


Thirty degrees at 7 PM and snow appears on the roadside as I near Bogus Basin Ski Area.  I have been riding uphill for 14 miles and not spied another cyclist, which is remarkable because there is always another velo enthusiast on this route.  A vest, rain jacket, long fingered gloves, and cycling cap rest in my jersey pocket, ready to add micro-layers of protection during the thirty-minute descent.  There is no official turn-around point on this ride.  Temperature and road conditions are the guiding parameters.  Finally, I encounter sheets of water running across the road and decide I do not need to be wet and cold, and the ascent stops and the return to the valley floor begins.

I have traveled this route over one hundred times by bike.  Tonight’s effort stood out because I was alone and the temperature.  It joined hallmark memories, like the thunderstorm that pounced so quickly that I turned around one-minute from the summit, afraid for my safety and without disappointment that I had not reached the top.  Or, the time I loaned my jacket to a freezing cyclist from Arizona who rode up the mountain unprepared for Idaho’s fall weather. Then there was the cow that stood in the road on a blind corner.  On the descent, I missed striking this oblivious bovine because I decided to try a different high-speed line around the corner.

The moments on edge are the ones that stand out.  The ascents and descents that fall somewhere in the range of normal are forgotten, even when recorded in a training log.  Our own edge provides a conduit into an inner conversation about what we value and believe.  

Today, what opportunities do we have to visit our edge?


A Case for Wayfinding

Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 9.12.01 AMIf the plan were certain then there is no need for the journey.   Every round of golf starts with a scripted course of action.  The prefered route is laid out on a map.  Yet most rounds of golf do not go as planned.  We must adapt and find our own route.  Afterward, what gives the stories we tell character and color is the way we overcame those obstacles.  If a round of golf cannot follow the script, why do we think our three and five-year plans are going to stay on course?  Planning is powerful.  Wayfinding, once we begin, is essential otherwise the plan does not match reality.