There’s just something about being pushed. Something about having someone bigger and stronger and more skilled than us, push us on our way. We all operate differently though. Having five children (yes, they’re all biologically mine and yes, people do ask), I’ve observed that each personality takes a different approach to riding their bike training wheels free for the first time. The first extreme: I watch one child out the window struggling on their own to push themselves off independently. They keep falling, brush themselves off, make sure no one is looking and try again, until they can come inside boasting of their accomplishment. The other extreme: One child begs me relentlessly to go outside, hold them steady on their bike and then push them off at just the right speed for them to sail on their own. The somewhere in-between is my child who desperately wants help but who is too afraid to ask, so never tries at all, until nature by some force, makes them learn to ride their big boy bike, or else.
Which extreme are you?
We all have training wheel moments in our lives. Those times when we desperately need to take the baby wheels off and make ourselves ride solo. Unfortunately, some of us are not the brave, independent type and we’d rather not die trying. Or, some don’t have a parent, friend or mentor who will give them that push at critical professional or personal milestones when everyone else can see the ludicrous nature of wasting full fledged talent on training wheel jobs, or giving away a beautifully seasoned heart to training wheel lovers.
I’ll never forget the just before dusk moment, my father pushed my bike, training wheels gone. I sailed. I was free. But I also remember feeling he’d pushed me too hard. It was that momentum though. That speed. It’s what I needed to prove to myself that I didn’t need training wheels anymore. I was the type of child to beg my father to help me learn to ride my bike. I thought, “If he just gives me the push I need, I can do it.” Little has changed. I’m always waiting for the push. But I’m less vocal as an adult. Perhaps it’s because “trusting others” isn’t a given. Sometimes I look like the lonely little child circling the driveway with limited choices for adventure, because training wheels can only take me so far.
There are no easy answers. Only points to ponder. Consider those areas in your life where your training wheels have become more of a barrier to success rather than a learning aid. Also, if you truly care about someone, as a parent, friend, partner, lover…speak up when you know that your loved one needs a push. Maybe you’re the trusted adviser who can inspire confidence in someone else. Or perhaps you have the tools to remove the training wheels for a relative, friend or colleague who is too afraid to ask. Maybe today’s the day to grow up just a little bit more. Simply remember, we’ll never truly leave our childhood behind.
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