An official gold partner of the 2022 Rebelle Rally, Mapbox is part of an ecosystem of partners who come together to create the longest off-road navigation challenge in North America.
Last month I, Liesl Perez, and Megan Danielson joined a Rebelle U four-day intensive training in Ridgecrest, California where we learned skills for off-road driving and analog navigation (only paper maps, compasses, and coordinates!) from some of the most experienced trainers in the rally world. The practical techniques and thrilling adventures were incredibly rewarding, and the larger leadership lessons even more so.
Mapbox has long been a bit of a rebel, refusing to accept the status quo in mapping and forging into the unknown. Now, we’re learning to become Rebelles.
During a time of rapid growth for Mapbox, for our customers, and in my own team and role, there are four pieces of Rebelle wisdom that resonated especially deeply:
The Gift of Focus
People who multitask regularly already know they can accomplish a lot through sheer grit and hard work. But when your attention and energy is usually divided among many competing priorities, it is easy to forget just how much you’re capable of. When faced with the terrifying prospect of driving a two ton Toyota Tacoma up and over steep, scree-covered hills and sand dunes, I had no choice but to apply 100% of my focus to learning how to drive confidently off-road. At the end of each day, while physically exhausted from all the learning, adrenaline, and desert heat, I noticed a feeling of incredible mental calm and satisfaction.
My takeaway? A clearly defined challenge to tackle, the time to focus entirely upon it, and the confidence boost that comes from watching yourself learn in real-time are uncommon gifts —and ones that I resolve to create for myself and my team more often.
Throw Mistakes in the Back Seat
The Rebelle Rally is a precision navigation challenge, over some of the toughest and most disorienting terrain there is. There are so many potential mistakes to make, from plotting a coordinate incorrectly, to miscalculating which track to follow, to choosing the wrong line to drive over an obstacle. Experienced Rebelles will tell you the trick to learning from mistakes is to “throw them in the back seat”: Notice them, learn from them, and then keep going towards your greater goal. Dwelling on mistakes and berating yourself or your team will only waste precious daylight and problem-solving energy.
The stories of Rebelles’ past mistakes were colorful and encouraging reminders that missteps are inevitable when tackling a complex challenge. And that, eventually, they all make for a good story —if you can keep them in your rearview mirror.
From Ownership Comes Agency
In stressful situations like the Rebelle Rally, or growing a business, it can be tempting to blame problems on things outside your control. When you’re tired and stressed, the last thing you naturally want to do is feel responsible for everything. But, the Rebelle coaches explain, this is ultimately self-defeating. Instead, every Rebelle competitor is urged to “take 100% of responsibility” when things go sideways, whether big or small. The reason? When you approach a problem like you own it, when you have 100% of responsibility for it, then you also have 100% of control over changing it. Even assigning 1% of the responsibility to someone else will weaken your own sense of agency.
Took a wrong turn and got the team offtrack? Own it, fix it. Feeling conflict simmering with a teammate? Own it, fix it. Didn’t reach your team’s goal as planned? If you can find a way to own it, you can find a way to lead forward.
Momentum and the Unknown
To drive up a steep hill or get across loose sand, you need enough momentum. Even if you’d prefer to proceed slowly and cautiously, you need to keep your foot steady on the throttle or else you'll have to try again, or even get stuck. During the training, I found it very intimidating to maintain momentum when I wasn’t completely sure what was ahead of me like over the crest of a hill or an unfamiliar stretch of sand. My first instinct would be to find an easier, clearer route. But I built confidence under the reassuring supervision of the Rebelle coaches, feeling the sensation of my truck starting to slip or sink when I wavered, and feeling the thrill of what four-wheel drive can muscle through when trusted and applied properly.
Of course we also learned about taking risks mindfully, like scoping an obstacle before committing to it: Get out and look over the edge, test how deep the mud is, understand your options. It struck me that when facing other intimidating unknowns, like starting a new job or building a new product, we don’t always get as visceral feedback as a tire slipping, and we can’t always look over the dune to see what’s on the other side. But the next time I feel myself losing momentum, like self-doubt, imposter syndrome, or procrastination, I’m going to remember my Rebelle training: Set your intention on where you’re going, commit, and trust yourself to adjust as needed —even if that means digging yourself out of the sand and trying again. The thrill will be worth it!
The 2022 Rebelle Rally runs from October 6th to 15th. Stay tuned regular updates from Mapbox as we go behind-the-scenes with the Rebelle crew and partners.