Last week, I had the huge honour of attending the first ever Soul Legends retreat.
I had no idea what to expect, but I was pumped to spend some quality time with incredible instructors who I admired from across America. Some of them I knew personally, but there were many who I had never even met in person. I was proud to be representing Canada at the retreat (I really should have packed a Canadian flag in hindsight) and I was excited to take back all that I would learn to my beautiful riders in Vancouver.
So what I did know is that I was flying to NYC for a few classes (nope not on a bike…say what!?), and we would be heading to the Poconos via bus to fill our days with things NOT involving riding bikes (again so confused). I wish I could tell you that we sang songs on that bus, or that it was some what eventful, but to be honest most of us slept. If there is one thing SoulCycle instructors do not have a hard time doing, its falling asleep/napping. But I digress.
Like most experiences in life, there are so many beautiful small details that make for the best memories. And this retreat was absolutely packed with colourful and vibrant experiences, and I believe most of us gained profound wisdom from all of them. I have picked 3 seminars/lectures to write about.
SOUL LEGENDS: PART ONE
Seminar/private lunch with Abby Wambach.
For those of you who may not know, Abby Wambach is a retired Soccer player (and an extraordinary one to say the least…she is a 2 time Olympic Gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion) as well as a coach, author and a wife. We had the incredible opportunity to hear Abby’s story as well as to speak with her personally after her lecture.
One of the reoccuring themes during this retreat was the discussion of RITUALS. Of how those who become truly successful in their field find themselves creating habits and patterns of success. In Abby’s case, her rituals were extreme. Pre game, Abby was meticulous about even the smallest detail, such as which sock she put on first. She found great value in her routines because it allowed her to stay where she needed to stay in terms of her focus, and wouldn’t allow her to get “outside” of herself.
Her methods resonated with me, as I am very methodically about how I create my playlist and prepare for a class. I ALWAYS listen to my playlist the whole way through at least once the night before. I arrange my workout outfits in the evening, and base what I wear to class on my music choices ( I kid you not, if I show up in dark workout gear, the vibe is completely different then if I show up in my pink donut leggings).
Once I arrive at the studio, I throw in my headphones and listen to every single transition between songs. This has to happen before every class. I also write on sticky notes constantly and I am always writing things down…. thoughts that inspire me, something I hear that I love, a book I should read later, etc. It has become one of my rituals, and I do it without even thinking about it now.
I believe that forming strong rituals is essential for your success. You become your habits. If you find yourself constantly sleeping in for morning classes for example, perhaps you could begin the ritual of no longer allowing yourself even ONE snooze button hit. I wake up at 5 am almost every day now, and believe me when I say I am NOT a morning person. But over time, the habit and ritual of early rising became so ingrained into me that I have trained my body to wake up before my alarm. I absolutely never ever hit the snooze button. I’m not saying I wake up like an angel (my boyfriend can attest to this) but I have created the habit of early rising over time.
So your first assignment…. what do you want to narrow in on and create into a HABIT? What can you do, however small, to keep yourself (as Abby would say) “inside” yourself and prepared for success? Your ritual could be small, such as no longer hitting snooze, or it could be big (whatever that means to you) but start today on your new ritual.
We then discussed what she referred to as the EASY BUTTON, which is basically any and all things that we use to distract ourselves from pain. This includes social media, booze, drugs, etc. We all know this statement to be true in our own way…
“Life on life’s terms can be hard and painful”
…And sometimes, we simply do not want to deal with the hard stuff. The world shows us endless easy buttons as distractions. Binge watching Netflix shows (and do not think I’m bashing that, I’m just saying it can be an escape) drinking too much, partying to much, you name it. That combined with boredom (“I hate my job/my boss, so rather then focusing on work I’ll scroll through your Instagram feed) and basically a world of distraction at your fingertips (hello iPhones) has made it so that hitting the Easy Button is… well easier then ever!
Abbys advice? BREATH BEFORE YOU PRESS THEM. Do you actually, and I mean really, need to creep your ex today? Do you have to stay out to 3 am, or whatever it may be? If we took a second to breath, and I mean REALLY BREATHE, like fill up your lungs and belly with a beautiful amount of oxygen and then exhale slowly and deliciously, would you give yourself the time to make a new decision?
Next assignment… identify your easy buttons. For me, its (recently, within the last year) become Pinterest! Ahhhhh I can spend hours on there just scrolling through. I do it when I’m stressed or overworked or want to distract myself from the millions of real things I need to get done. I now seriously limit myself to maybe 30 mins a week, and then I get OUT of there. So once you identify your go to easy button, recognize that this is truly a distraction from you becoming your best self. We should be afraid of those easy buttons. Our life is meant to be lived and felt deeply, not dulled and masked with endless and meaningless distractions. Once you know what it is, start to truly decide how you are going to make it a HABIT to stop seeking it. Your easy button used in excess does not serve you.
The conversation then lead to the discussion of what it means to be a LEADER. Abby said that one of the best/hardest/most awakening moments in her life was when she broke her leg. The timing could not have been worse, it was right before the Beijing Olympics! Imagine how devastating that blow must have been. She described that she truly learnt how strong character is in the moment when one it is tested. She also came to realize that the game was never about one player. The best leaders are not only the ones who INSPIRE others, but also the ones who inspire others to inspire, through both victories and defeats.
Its like a beautiful dance, between creating a life for yourself where you feel inspired and driven on your own terms, but where you also step up and become a leader to those around you. When Abby broke her leg, it gave her teammates both the space and the responsibility to step up and into their own roles as leaders on the field. She realized you can either play as an individual, or play as a group. It does not always mean that you personally will score the winning goal, but you can contribute to that positive energy and it will in turn bounce back to you. So while she could not attend the Olympics, she threw out so much beautiful and positive energy from her hospital bed that her teammates still felt supported. Now that is true team work and leadership.
How do you, in your life, feel that you can be a LEADER? Often we feel like we must be in a position of assigned Leadership (“I am the boss”, “I am the teacher”, “I am the Pro”, “I am the best at this”) to inspire. You do not need to be the best at something to be a leader. True leaders are the ones who lift up those around them, so that they can be elevated. The most confident people raise up others and at times take a backseat themselves.
So what rituals can you start to create for yourself? How can you SHIFT your focus to see that we are stronger united, and empower yourself to be a leader.
I could continue on for hours about Abby’s insights, but thankfully, she has done that for us. I highly reccomend that you pick up a copy of her book “Forward: A Memoir” for some beautiful insight and powerful fuel for our inspiring hearts.
It was truly wonderful to have the oppourtunity to not only hear Abby speak, but to also spend some time with her.