Keep Pedaling

The following article was written exclusively for “The Flame” – a product of Collaborative Solutions Group. To read all of the articles, visit:

Last fall, Collaborative Business Solutions hosted a two-day Leadership Mastery Summit in Huntersville.  Just over a dozen speakers shared their unique stories motivating and enlightening those who could join the summit virtually.

While I was excited to be one of the speakers on day two of the event, perhaps a bigger thrill was sharing the stage with some of the nation’s outstanding motivational speakers.  Among them was Nate Salley, former Ohio State National Champion Safety who played for the Carolina Panthers from 2006-2009.

Nate Salley, former Ohio State Buckeye National Champion and Carolina Panther Safety, speaks at The Leadership Master Summit last month. Photo Courtesy Sarah Mitchell, CPP, Sarah Lynn Studio

Nate now speaks to groups with his company Audible Coaching and Consulting. As a huge College Football fan, I remembered Nate from his playing days with the Ohio State Buckeyes and enjoyed watching him on Sunday afternoons with our Carolina Panthers.

Salley’s program entitled, “Three Steps to Walking in Your Purpose,” spoke about the challenges’ individuals face as they define their purpose in life. As I write this column, perhaps no time in our career have we faced greater challenges than those presented by this COVID-19 pandemic – Challenges to our health, to our business, and to our relationships.

If the virus we battle were not enough, we are dealing too with the issues related to diversity and inclusion. The death of George Floyd a few months ago, at the hands of  the Minneapolis Police, has become a “Tipping Point” for African Americans as we all begin a much-needed dialogue about race in America.

I listened intently as Nate began discussing the life lessons he shared with his own son. Pausing to look around the room, Nate beamed as he discussed how he taught his son how to ride a bike. He shared how he held him firmly on the seat of the new bike and promised he would be right there to keep him from harm.  As his son started pedaling, and panicked, realizing he was easing out of his father’s arms.  Nate assured him, “He would be there…keep pedaling and even if you fall, I  will get you back up.”

I could not help but think back on my first experience on a bike.  While many others in my neighborhood began with training wheels, my dad simply started me off on a hill, and like Nate, urged me to keep pedaling!

For weeks, whenever I wanted to stop the bike, I simply guided it into bushes, up against a tree, or simply fell off before one of the other kids asked why I simply didn’t use the brakes?

“What’s a brake?” I asked back.

No one ever told me how to slow down, stop or dismount.  Simply watch where you are going, pay attention to cars and the people around you, and keep pedaling.

Both Nate and my dad had similar advice – Whether on a bike or in life, you will fall and some of those falls will hurt a little more than others. But you always get back up and keep pedaling.

As Nate Salley was wrapping up his talk, he reminded everyone that pain had its purpose.  Even this pandemic we are experiencing will provide us new opportunities as we adapt, grow, and learn from the challenges we face.

As I thought about those lessons my dad imparted on me, Nate turned, and his eyes met mine. It was as if he was reading my thoughts when he paused, smiled, and talked about “Legacy.” The Legacy we leave is not all the toys we have, wealth we have amassed, or places we have traveled – it’s the impact we have on others and the difference we have made in their lives.

There will be days when you feel you have given it everything you have. Perhaps a day when you have stumbled or fallen. That is when, as Nate reminded us all, you remember your “why” – your unique purpose… and keep on pedaling.

W.E. “Bill” Russell, CCE, IOM


Author: Bill Russell

I am the President & CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber of Conmmerce and the 73rd President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).

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