Who is Niki Mathias?
Niki Mathias is an educator and writer who believes life can be a series of great adventures – her first job after college was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica. She’s chosen several different career paths since then, but they all enabled her to help people and organizations grow. She’s accomplished this as a teacher, a leadership coach, a corporate leader, and an athlete. The theme of her most rewarding work has been transformation – both personal and organizational.
Niki shares tools, resources, and stories to help you design meaningful adventures in your life. Niki tells stories about herself and other people in order to inspire hope and passion in others. Above all, she shines a light on personal and professional growth because when we transform ourselves, we can transform our world.
What’s the Deal with 5 Flat Tires?
A few years ago, I decided to do an Ironman triathlon. When I made this decision, I was more of a couch potato than an athlete. I didn’t own a bicycle and I had never swam more than two laps in the pool. But after four long years of focused training and personal transformation, I thought I was ready for the Ironman.
The Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run, which you have to complete in 17 hours. If you finish before midnight, you get a medal. If you cross the finish line after midnight, no medal. There are no exceptions to this.
In order to prepare for Ironman, I hired a coach, invested in expensive equipment, lost weight, and arranged my work schedule to accommodate 12-16 hours of training each week.
When the day of the event came, I thought I was prepared. But during the race, the unforeseen happened: I got five flat tires on the bike course. Not one, not two, but five flat tires. I spent almost two hours on the side of the road getting my bike repaired. This was not what I had expected, not what I had planned, and not what I wanted. I was more than upset. But despite the challenges and frustrations, I did not quit.
I kept going and I finished the bike course and then I finished the run course. I finished that Ironman in 16 hours and I got my finishers’ medal.
Five flat tires is symbolic of the obstacles that happen to us when we’re on an epic journey. Five flat tires was the challenge that tested my personal commitment to my goal. Five flat tires was what I had not planned for and those five flat tires helped me discover exactly how resilient I could be. Five flat tires, while frustrating and disappointing, served as the turning point in my adventure when I decided not to quit and succeeded in accomplishing my goals. Five flat tires made me stronger.
Another way of saying all this: Five flat tires was the breakdown that came before the breakthrough in my life.
If we embark on significant adventures in our life, we are all bound to have an experience of five flat tires. You may not want to compete in an Ironman triathlon, but your journey might be about your career or your relationship or your children or your retirement. During your adventures, something will happen that you didn’t plan. And how you respond to that challenge will define your character and your life.
Every one of us has the capacity to be resilient, to persevere, to become the hero of our own life. I believe some of our most frustrating challenges can be our greatest opportunities for personal growth – if we remain open to learning and change. Some of our most disappointing moments can also become our most meaningful experiences. Most importantly, I believe we all have the potential to be extraordinary, and by sharing these types of stories we can generate hope in each other.
I started this blog in August of 2010. My writing covers diverse ground, but these posts should help you get oriented to things:
My Adventures & Credentials
I have had the great pleasure and privilege of going on many unique adventures in my life. I love how when you visit different countries, they stamp your passport with all the places you land. I don’t have passport stamps for all these adventures, but here’s some of my really significant trips.
- I spent two summers in New Jersey living in a tipi with “at risk” kids from New York City
- I learned Russian and lived in Moscow during an attempted political coup
- I traveled alone around the USA on an Amtrak ticket
- I traveled to 15 countries
- I hiked parts of the Appalacian trail
- I spent two years in the Peace Corps in Jamaica
- I ran 2 marathons (San Diego & Phoenix), and 9 half marathons
- I went hot air ballooning, parasailing and skydiving
- I ran in a 195 mile relay race
- I founded a non-profit organization
- I finished 3 Ironman triathlons and more than 30 other triathlons
- I traveled to Costa Rica for 8 weeks to learn how to surf
- I hitched a ride on an airplane
- I slept on the floor of a barn
- I adopted two rescued Labrador dogs
- I finished two masters degrees and two graduate certificates
- I coached several hundred leaders in a technical company
- I wrote a book
- I volunteered as a caregiver to people with HIV/AIDS
- I founded and led a start-up department within a Fortune 100 company
I am what I would call overeducated, having attended five institutions of higher learning:
- Ohio State University – B.A. English, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa
- Ohio Dominican College – Graduate Certificate – Secondary Education
- University of Phoenix – M.A. Organizational Management
- Georgetown University – Graduate Certificate – Leadership Coaching
- University of Pennsylvania – Master in Applied Positive Psychology
The Fine Print
Five Flat Tires is my personal blog. Unless stated otherwise, all opinions are my own and do not reflect the views and opinions of my community, clients, or employer.
Affiliate link disclosure: I use affiliate links on Five Flat Tires, primarily for products from Amazon.com. This means in some cases when I link to Amazon.com or some other online retailer I get a commission for referred sales. Meaning, if you click one of these affiliate links and make a purchase the retailer gives me a cut of it. For what it’s worth, I never write articles and insert affiliate links for the sole reason of earning a commission. If I link to an online retailer it’s because I legitimately believe their product can benefit readers. And if I earn a few buck in the process all the better. Earned commissions go toward supporting the costs of running this site. So, while not all outbound product links are affiliate links go ahead and assume they are. And trust me when I say I’m never going to get rich off the affiliate links on this site!