Monday, November 23, 2015

Worthiness And The Plight Of The Fog

I've often imagined my sense of self to be sort of like a howitzer tank: immovable, unbreakable, and highly dangerous when engaged. 

Over the last year, however, the charming cracks in the wall became more akin to chasms than chipped paint -- a damaged tank, no matter how sturdy, will break down with enough bombing. And with every mortar round, with every strike of the shrapnel, the tank is weakened a little more until it's weathered and worn into a ghost of its former self. 

And knowing who you are doesn't mean you don't get lost. 

There's this fog of unworthiness that haunts me. I can't tell you where it comes from, but I can guess... Friendships gone south, selfish decisions I've made, unfair calls, ruthless action. More judgement than compassion, more anger than understanding. More justification than solution. Injuries, losses, too-little-too-lates. Missed opportunities, squandered chances. 

All wrapped up in a fortress of 'fuck off'. Cemented with the nagging feelings of inability, unworthiness, self-hate. And for what? Because I'm not perfect? Because I know this, I preach this, but cannot escape my own expectation of it? 

I'm standing over here, shouting "HEY! I'm okay! I'm just fine the way I am! Fuck you!" while everyone around me is saying "Yeah, that's what we keep telling you", but all I can hear are the echoes of my own screams that somehow, come twisting back as "You suck."

They say we don't see the world as it is, but as we are. 

And right now? I don't see myself as good. I don't see myself as useful or productive. 

My microscope may be a little too sharp... But it's pretty fucking accurate. And I see myself making a whole lot of noise about something that's important, but nothing is being done about. Why? Because it's easier to make noise than sit still and wring my hands in my lap... And I haven't done enough with my career or my life to do much more than either of those. 

And I need validation. Like every other late 20-something, I need to know that my life matters; that my existence isn't meaningless. And so Tinder, and Twitter. And social media out the fucking wazoo. And this stupid, vapid fucking blog where all I talk about is me.

Good god. I've turned into the worst thing ever. 

My ego has become a monster that will destroy everything in its path... It's no longer my quiet, satisfied sense-of-self.  
It's a narcisstic Godzilla incapable of actually changing the world because I'm more obsessed with how i'm seen by people who I've never met! 

Sheesh. Clearly, the frustration isn't entirely with the world. It's very much with myself.

And yes, I'll cut myself some slack: there did need to be some standing up and throwing down. That needed to happen and it should have happened years ago, long before I even entered the picture. But it didn't. And once I 'cowboyed up', as they say, it was go time, all the time. 

But I can't go full gas all the time. I couldn't stand up for everyone and fight every battle without it somehow becoming less about change and more about 'losing'. And reading enough PB comments, it's pretty fucking clear when it became more about me not 'losing' some stupid imagined ego battle than it was about my contributions to a growing industry. 

That's what kills confidence right there -- knowing I'm sliding, but not being able to stop the slide until I'm off and over the cliff. Not moving, not stopping the deterioration of the tank until every last piece of armor is gone. 

And that doubt kills everything. It kills performance, it kills belief. It kills purpose and hope and optimism. The doubt that comes from an ego slide is the fastest way to bottom out a career... Because you get desperate. You get greedy. You take chances you don't need to take, and spiral into a pattern of ego-fueled injury and self-hate. And why? Because my feeling of unworthiness, of stagnancy? Lack of productivity? 

Well. As long as we're here, at least we have a direction: UP. 


Monday, November 16, 2015

Athletes, Writers and the Tales of Other Raging Egomaniacs

Show me a writer and I'll show you a narcissist.

Give me any successful athlete and I'll reveal to you a show pony.

Introduce to me a politician, a doctor and a scientist, and I'll greet you with a control freak, a god complex, and the eternal doubter.

We all have our fatal flaws. Most of us (aka, the self-important egomaniac writing this shit) have more flaws than redeeming qualities. We think we matter. We think we're 'making a difference'. We're the exception to the rule, above criticism, and everything we say or write is taken out of context.

Of course it is.

That's what humans do.

But it's always easier to point out someone else's flaws than reward the behavior we respect and attempt to emulate, and that's the key to survival in a content-fueled, self-promoting world -- appropriation.

Not that everyone intends to be content-regurgitating robots. They don't. We don't. But in a world where nearly everyone has their own brand of publicity whoring, I'm rarely surprised at the depths athletes/models/public figures will stoop for more attention (thus: money and love). Myself excluded, of course, because I AM NOT DOING THIS TO BUILD A BRAND.

Oh, wait. Yes I am. Everyone is, whether they know it or not.

I'm just trying to do it a bit less sleazy of a way than most so that I can do what I love: ride bikes and shout at the kids on my lawn.

It takes a bit more time and ingenuity to create (and is more susceptible to hatred, criticism and people wanting to kill you or attack your character), but I think it's worth it if we can prove that a career can indeed be built on something other than mediocre skill and sex appeal. And if I can't? Well then, we'll just produce a memoir in 20 years about how I was secretly fucking my way to the... Middle of the lowest category in the pack?

Until then, enjoy the train wreck that is me trying to string together a series of actions in an effort to make the world a better place. Because, naivete.

But really, is there anyone who's moderately successful who hasn't figured out how to market themselves? Is it narcissism or is it a belief in one's own potential? Is it sharing experiences in a way to relate to the world or is it a shameless attempt to broadcast how much one knows? Is there a difference? Does the type of content matter or is it the individual broadcasting? Is showcasing potential less to due with potential or more to do with showing off? And here's a real doozie: does it depend on the gender of the person creating the brand?

Venus Williams notoriously said "A champion believes in themselves, even when no one else will."

Think about that... Now either get out there and blow some fucking minds while you work your hands to the bone or go attempt to at least make someone else's hard-won effort seem like it was your idea first. You're welcome, you lovely humans.

Sincerely,

The World's Most Self-Important Douchenozzle After Trump


PS: The first Ask Amanda video is going live Friday, November 20. Go to this link to submit a question for the Ask Amanda videos, to the same page for the upcoming video collection (52 a year!) or THIS LINK to watch the weekly Ask Amanda video. The videos on my site won't always be updated weekly, but it's a good hub to stay with for all things hilariously honest and completely uncensored.




Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rules Of Success, Ep 72


I was recently had the great opportunity to be on the Rules Of Success podcast with Bryce Prescott... In short, I had a blast. I wish we had been able to record our first pre-production call as well as it seemed less about me and more about the business side of the cycling industry, but Bryce is an amazing guy and a fabulous host who had me opening up and getting a tad more personal than I thought I would. If you'd like to listen to me drone on, check it out. Lots of fun, and massive thanks to Bryce for having me on!

One thing that had me thinking during our conversation was the definition of 'success'. After Bryce and I chatted about the 4 pillars of success that his show is based around in our pre-production conversation, I had the chance to sit down, doodle on my post-it notes and ruminate where my life falls in each category. Health/Fitness, Relationships, 'Being' (spirituality, sense-of-self, identity, etc), and Financial/Business/Funding. I'm going to be honest here and explain that I don't feel I'm necessarily proficient in any of these areas. At certain times I'll crush one area to the point that the rest will fall apart, and I'm left wondering where my belief in balance has gone. Others, I'm so completely immersed in two or three and the other area is... Less strong. But as I reflected on the last couple of years and its challenges, work, joy and my growth, I've discovered that there's often a little bit of everything involved in every action I take; for instance, I don't make a business decision without ticking off every other check box. Does this decision honor my beliefs? Does it fall within my personal acceptable level of risk? Will it hurt my relationships? Is this going to stress me out to the point of being unhealthy or causing other issues, physically? Where is the benefit, financially, emotionally, socially, mentally?

I can easily say that the choices I've made without consulting this list haven't turned out well. But the choices and moves I've made that fall in line with my personal list, despite the outward appearance of rash or dangerous, usually work out quite well in the long run. The older I get and the more experience I gain, I'm coming to an understanding that no matter what, I have live with my choices and the consequences of those decisions, for good or bad. And some days it's about being able to roll with the punches. Some days (or weeks or months), I have to choose to take a few punches. Occasionally, I decide to throw my own. But every punch has a ripple effect.

As I look back through the rules of my own definition of success, I see areas that need to be worked on. I need to fix relationships, burn less bridges and work better with people. I could use some tone moderation when it comes to working with people -- my outright aggression can be greatly beneficial in certain situations, but it can be alienating and discouraging when I don't temper it with compassion and empathy... And that includes myself. I forget, physically, that I have my limits. That my body won't respond to an all-out assault, all the time. I forget that I need to treat myself with kindness and not just demands. But these are areas of growth reflected by my list of rules. And so long as I keep checking in on them, I think the kids'll be alright.

What are your 'rules'? What steadfast values do you hold that dictate your own version of success?


Sunday, November 8, 2015

...

i found the song. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Selling Sex Is For Morons

There are few slogans on the planet that rankle me quite as much as 'sex sells'. I know, I know -- I've beat this dead horse into the ground.

But. 

For whatever reason, there's a fringe segment of uniquely stupid (or stubborn) marketers inside of the bike industry that seem to be ignoring every sign, pattern, writing and shout from their market, and they're hell-bent on delivering the same lazy, overused, undereffective approach to us. Don't ask me why. I don't know. For the life of me, I don't understand why ANY creative director, marketing executive, or art supervisor would ignore the market demands, advertising effectiveness studies, educational theories and continue to publish the drivel that has seeped to the surface this year.

I cannot comprehend the sheer stupidity of it. The utter ignorance. Why would ENDURO magazine publish this? Why would Superior Bikes not swap 'female' for 'recreational'? Why would any company choose to do this in 2015? Or this? Or (f*cking hell), THIS?! 



A photo posted by Amanda Batty (@abattycakes) on


The only answer I'm repeatedly coming up with here is that there are not, in fact, humans running these companies or marketing departments. They have to be monkeys. Or owls. Or bunnies... Yep. That has to be it. Rabbits seem to be the only species this obsessed with boinking and/or projecting the image of boinking. But rabbits seem pretty clever. In fact, if there were indeed rabbits in charge at all of these companies that have created and released sexist or sex-based advertising campaigns, those bunnies likely would have researched their adverts before going live.

Yes, there has been research on this topic. Shocking, I know. But if you think about it, advertising is extremely profitable when it's successful. Advertising is driven by selling people your product by exploiting their wants and desires. Therefore, knowing what people want is, potentially, ridiculously lucrative. How do we find out what people want? By studying them, of course! Seems pretty straightforward, yes?

No. 

Because all of those companies missed this study featured on Havard Business Review. And that one. Oh, and the French and British ones from 2013, too. I found them pretty easily on Google, so my hypothesis is that there are rabbits who cannot use Google running these companies.

And yet, these are the marketing efforts not only seen by those of us inside the cycling industry, but outside as well. And from the looks of things, the mainstream doesn't like what it sees. When Glamour magazine, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, CNN and other large, far-reaching media outlets take issue with what's going on inside of our niche sport, it's time for serious review

If this awful content was actually an attempt to sell a product, I would understand. But it's not -- none of these campaigns actually market or sell a specific product outside of sex. It's not a real advertisement. Rather, my guess is that this is a woefully inept attempt to maintain the status quo and keep these ego-driven creators employed in a rapidly changing economy. My guess is that this isn't about cycling whatsoever, but about the insistence of these marketers to hang on to an antiquated, overused business model in order to relive and recreate the days when they were relevant (and/or sexually virile). Yes, I went there. Because this isn't about what the customer wants, the product they're selling or the industry demands. This is about the people directly responsible for this so-called 'marketing'.  

And despite what many people have claimed, this isn't about me. It's not about me playing victim. This isn't about my career, my racing, or the sexual standards I'm expected to uphold all while being 'the cool girl'. Hell, remove all of the women (feminist or otherwise) from this equation. Remove the future generations of girls on bikes. Take away our female athletes' involvement in any sport. It comes down to smart business. This is about taking stock of opportunity, looking at the industries that it hasn't worked for in the past and figuring out what we can sell. This is all about why cycling is special and why anyone should want to get involved. 

Figure out what people want. Cater to the market that is buying. Find out why we're here. Question your own motives for being on a bike. If you're here to get laid, I'll tell you what: you picked the wrong damn place, my friend. We're all just a bunch of overly-passionate nerds riding around on motorless toys that cost more than a down payment on a nice home. I'm not here because it makes me feel sexy. I'm not here because there are attractive people. I'm not even here to get fit, for christ's sake! I'm here because it makes me feel strong. It makes me feel weak. It makes me work hard, and it rewards my hard work. I'm here because of the immutable laws of gravity, of velocity, of force. I'm here because it hurts and because it heals. I'm here because there are days, weeks, months where the only thing that makes sense is the revolution of my tires and the sweat dripping into my eyes. I'm still here because nothing is more real than the second I make contact with the ground.

This is what we sell. And if you can't understand that, maybe you shouldn't be here; it's not about tits, it's not about ass. It's about how a bike makes a person feel. And that's it.
Sell that. 

And if we can't sell that, we clearly aren't hiring the right people to sell it.