How do you ride a bike? I remember when my kids got their first bike. Oh, they couldn’t wait to ride a bike like the “big kids” in the neighborhood. As much as they wanted to get on board and take off after the big kids, it wasn’t that easy. We started off with training wheels. And even then, I’m walking around behind them because even with training wheels, learning to sit on a bike seat is still a new thing.
We master that type of balancing and now it’s time for those training wheels to come off. Those of us parents know what comes next.
You’re running behind your kiddo, holding the back of the bike seat, trying to help them learn this new kind of balancing. Then you let go, they go a little ways and tip over. Some kids get right back up and try again, no questions asked. Some kids give you this look of horror and betrayal, and start crying, “Why did you let me go?”
Welcome to life learning moments.
Learning to ride a bike is just like learning in real life. And your reaction to learning in real life could be just like the kiddo trying to learn to ride a bike.
As the leader, you guide, teach and mentor. You’re holding on to the bike seat, giving your employee a chance to learn the ropes. At some point, you let go of the bike seat. Will she make a mistake? Absolutely. Nobody’s perfect. The key is how you react and handle it.
When I was helping my kids learn to ride a bike, I leaned tough love with a smattering of gooeyness. If one of them fell over, I said, “You’re okay. Now get back up and try it again. This time, don’t twist the handlebars so fast.”
As we say in CAP, they got a bit of the four F’s – Firm, Fair, Fast, Followup.
As the learner, your job is not just to learn the job, but to take personal responsibility for it. All of it. The rockstar moments and the missteps. And don’t throw yourself off the deep end. Get back on the bike and try again so you can cruise around and be one of the big kids.
So what do we learn from learning how to ride a bike?
Leaders: Support and encourage. Give them the opportunity to fail. Help them learn from their missteps.
Learners: Practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Take personal responsibility for your success and your missteps.