Worst advice: Stay in your lane

Worst advice: Stay in your lane

His bike had a Hulk doll on the front. It was connected to a big spring so it dangled a little.

“Looks good,” someone said.

“Yeah, there’s still a creak in the back wheel but it’s coming along.”

He took off his helmet and sat down.

“How long did that take?” I asked.

“About 6-months full-time, 6-9 months part-time,” he said, “there’s a few parts to it, someone does the welding, another does the painting, I put it all together.”

The bike was something you’d never seen before. One of a kind. Bright neon green, big wheels, long handles, like a Harley but in a bicycle. A real thing to look at.

He kept going. “This one will go to car shows, someone might want to have it in their shop front, I think its got real potential.”

“How’d you get into it?” I asked.

"I lived at the Gold Coast and had this big trike with flames going up it. I’d ride up and down the boulevard and people would ask, 'where’d you get that?'"

“Enough people starting asking me, I thought, there must be a market here,” he said, “so I started designing and creating my own and so far they’ve been a hit.”

I turned and looked again at the bike. Back at him.

“I’ve seen you testing them along the front. Not a bad place to ride.”

He laughed.

“How long have you been building them for?” I asked.

“About 2-3 years now, I make websites and coach high-level football athletes on the side but the bike building has been taking off.”

“A little bit of everything.”

“Yeah,” he said, “it’s how I’ve always been. I’ve never been the best at anything but I’ve been pretty good at a handful of things and then figuring other things out as I go. I’d never built a bike until a couple of years ago, now I’m selling them for $2000-$3000 each.”

I looked at the bike again. I wasn’t alone. Everyone who walked past stopped to look at it.

“That’s crazy how quick it can take off when you’re making something good.”

He laughed again.

“Figure something out, make it, make it well, and people will pay you for it.”

You may have heard the advice stay in your lane.

It’s good advice if you’re the best in the world at something or know something better than anyone else.

If either of these aren’t you, stay in your lane is terrible advice.

What can you do instead?

Change to another lane. Bring what you know from your previous experience into that one. Once you’ve learned enough, change again, see what works. Start combining everything you’ve learned from different disciplines.

You’ll never be the best in the world at any one thing. But you’ll be the best in the world at the crossover of all the other things you’ve tried.

“Building websites help me set up a store for the bikes, coaching athletes helped me deal with clients, I’ve got a keen eye for detail, so I like things to look good. I guess that’s why people like the look of the bikes.”