Speak: Find Your Voice, Trust Your Gut, and Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
No matter who we are, no matter where we are, no matter what we are going through or whether we’ve asked for it, we all have that one moment. A moment when you see clearly how your life might change—the only decision you have to make is if you’re going to pay attention to the fact that it’s there.
I had one of those moments in 2016, just after I finished the first cycling class I’d ever taken. I was in New York, feeling lost and disconnected, confused about who I was and what I was doing with my life. It was a very uncomfortable place to be, but I didn’t know exactly how to shake myself out of it. I left the fitness studio, still feeling that after-workout high; movement had helped. As I made my way home, something made me stop short. Out of nowhere, I threw my face into my hands and let out a loud laugh—not a giggle or a chuckle but a burst of pure, unfiltered joy. After a long period of feeling uncertain about what was to come, I suddenly felt wildly grateful to be alive. Something was happening with my soul and my spirit. I had gone from skipping through the fog of New York City to laughing like a crazy person. Then a rush of energy moved through me. I felt a blue light run from my toes to my fingertips.
For the first time in a while—perhaps the first time ever—I could see it clearly. My future. I would be cycling for the rest of my life. And not only that, but I’d be teaching it to others. On the world’s biggest platform. As I had these thoughts, I didn’t even really know what they meant. But they were as clear to me as anything had ever been. I was absolutely certain.
By the time I got home, the sensation had faded, but the thoughts stayed in the back of my head. I could have dismissed them and gone on with my regularly scheduled programming, telling myself that things were good enough, or that what I’d experienced on that walk were fantasies, ignoring the feeling deep down that something had to change. I could have stuck with what felt comfortable and familiar and made sense.
But I didn’t.
Fast-forward to 2021. I had become one of Peloton’s elite instructors, training millions of people across four countries every day from a bike on a podium. It was a dream job. I didn’t get there in one day, or even one year. But the moment I had—the vision I had—opened a door, and I shoved my foot right into it until, little by little, I squeezed my way in.
I know what you’re thinking: Tunde, easier said than done! Life is hard! There are responsibilities! We can’t just drop everything to chase a moment. And that’s true. But I want to challenge that thought for a minute and ask: What if that moment isn’t just a moment, but a mindset?
We are often so trapped by our expectations of ourselves and our lives. Life can be complicated, and to protect ourselves, we assume we know what’s to come and look for a path that’s wide and clear, well-blazed with trail markers so we get it right. But in our quest to make things easier, we often unintentionally impose limits. We fail to notice the side roads, the alternate routes, the opportunities to scramble up a rock face over which we might see a big, open sky. Knowing what’s next keeps you knowing only what you know. Embracing uncertainty empowers you to take risks. The beauty of uncertainty, I’ve found, is infinite possibility.
When I’m teaching a class, I like to say things twice, so riders have a chance to absorb what I’m trying to say—so I have a chance to absorb what I’m trying to say.
So, here it is again: The beauty of uncertainty is infinite possibility.
I hope that’s how you feel opening this book. Maybe you came to it because you’ve taken my class, maybe your friend gave it to you, maybe you liked the cover. You don’t even have to have heard of me before or clicked into a stationary bike to join in. I will do my best to give you a reason to move forward with me, in whatever ways we can. We won’t always move forward chronologically, or as things happened in the moment—after all, that’s not really how stories work. When we sit down with our friends, we don’t fill them in on our lives from beginning to end. We get ahead of ourselves and circle back; echoes of the past inform the future; we wait until we know each other a little better, until the time is just right.
When I teach, I’m always trying to lead riders forward with thoughts and directions I hope will be inspiring. We’re on the bike alone, but we ride together. Every day, I see people grow physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally by taking that first, hundredth, or thousandth step. That’s what I’ve tried to do here. I’ve created a path for you with my words, but the journey is your own.
We all have moments like my blue-light vision at least a few times in our lives, even if they don’t come in that exact form. You feel like something you didn’t even know you were waiting for is right in front of you. And you have to decide how you are going to act. Are you open enough to receive the message? Brave enough to surrender to the mystery of a new direction? Strong enough to pursue your vision, even if it doesn’t fall into your lap? Or will you choose to stay comfortable? Those were the questions I asked myself, and listening to how I answered them, listening to my friends, to the voices around me, and the universe at large got me where I am today, realizing that my life’s mission is to SPEAK.
SPEAK is about finding my voice, but it is also the movement I’ve created for others, using five key pillars:
In order to speak, you have to be willing to surrender. You have to know your power. You have to lead with empathy. You have to be authentic, and you have to have the knowledge to back it.
These words shape my philosophy. They keep me strong and vulnerable, caring and tough, curious and ready. They keep me moving forward, on flat ground, up hills, even when it looks and feels like I’m staying in one place. They have carried me through all the stories I will share in this book—times of great sorrow and heartbreak, change, triumph, and joy. They have brought me the best of friendships; they have connected me with people I never thought I’d meet; and they have brought me here, to you. I’m sharing them and the lessons they offer because my greatest dream is that each of us finds love, peace, and acceptance for ourselves, and then brings that love out into the world.
I want this book to help you take notice of where these words, as concepts, have shown up in major moments in your life. On a piece of paper, or in your phone if, like me, you have it attached to your hip, write down these five words and think about your own life.
If you look back, you may find that when you surrendered, it resulted in change. When you led with empathy, you found yourself able to act more freely. Once you’re aware of these words, you can tune in to them and give yourself the license to act in that spirit. Recognizing where you are allows you to move more freely into action.
Every day, I see regular people push themselves out of their comfort zones. I see them reach out to each other. I see them connect and grow. And that’s because, I believe, in some ways we’re all the same. We all feel the same grief, joy, and hope, and we all have the capacity to create change for ourselves and others. Why not the whole world? Why not surrender to the unknown, step into our power, lead with empathy, be true and authentic to ourselves along the way, and use the knowledge that we gain to get us from where we are to where we want to be? How do we SPEAK?
This is how.
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|Epub||May 18, 2022|
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