Editor's Note June '11 | The Bike Riding Principle
I just had one of those Norman Rockwell picture moments. Envision the dad out trying to teach his 4-year old how to ride a bike. Running alongside, holding onto a young child who keeps looking back to make sure the parental safety net is secured. The fear, the hope, the worry, the thrill. On one hand, trepidation and apprehension blend in the physics of gravity and cement. On the other hand, trust and faith. Great expectations. (As long as I’m holding with the other hand!)
Then there’s the letting go. A bit sneaky. Perhaps even a bit misleading, since I’m reaffirming, “I’ve got you; you’re doing it!” But as he remains focused in front of himself, looking at the road and pedaling into the future, without even knowing it, he takes flight and cuts his ties with my supporting hand.
Then there’s the realization that he really is doing it, by himself - A wobble, a bit of fear. He’s on his own. And then the fear and worry give way to a new sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. And freedom.
Sure it’s simple, but it was an immensely rewarding parenting moment. On a small scale, it’s a model for much of the purpose of life. A loving parent guiding and balancing a child who is learning to find balance and direction. A nurturing hand gives way to growth and autonomy.
As the kids wind up another year of school and bask in the joys of summer, I’m reminded of how many times this theme plays out in our lives. Great joy and happiness come from a guiding hand that helps us take flight by ourselves. And greater joys come from leading others to the freedoms that come from independence. Our health, our education, our career, our family, our relationships - each follow the bike riding principle. When we learn to take responsibility for ourselves in these areas, we become much more free, productive, and happy.
To a certain extent we like riding around with training wheels. We like the support and assurance. It’s safe. It’s easy. But think how much more could be accomplished in your life if you got out the wrench and removed the training wheels. Maybe you need to pursue that e-business degree, or finish your education. Maybe you should polish your resume and fish deeper waters for other opportunities. Maybe you need to take more responsibility for your health, learn how to cook and eat healthier, and replace your fast food and comfort foods with fit foods. Whatever is holding you back in life, get up, get out there, and start pedaling, focus on your future, and don’t worry so much about the safety net. True health and happiness comes from growth and accomplishment. Focus more on the hope and thrill of life, keep your balance, and before you know it, you’ll conquer the challenge. After all, it’s like riding a bike.