Fear is like riding a bike

Remember when you first learned to ride your bike?

For me, I was roughly six years old. And to say I was excited about learning to ride, is the understatement of the century.

The memories of getting my first bike, the smile on my face, that feeling of being a “big kid”, is a fond memory, that leaves me smiling as I write this.

Sitting on my sleek little black bike for the first time, gripping the handles, rapidly steering the handle bars left and right.

And then quickly learning about gravity and balance, as I tipped the bike, with training wheels, over for the first time.

Whoops. Lesson learned.

Since it was a simple fall, one that didn’t land me in the hospital, or hurt really at all, I was still ready to press forward, to be free and take on the world.

With my new bike and discovery of gravity, I took to riding in circles around my garage, since I was TOLD that training wheels would not work well on gravel.

I didn’t care. I was ready to ride.

Slowly but surely I began to figure out the peddles, and handle bars as I rode in circles around the garage. And naturally, as I began to improve my skill, my confidence grew with it.

Until finally, I was ready. I was ready to take on the road. More like the driveway, but the road to a six year old, nonetheless.

Seeing as how I wasn’t one to wait around for an adult to help me, or one to shy away from risk, I took on the challenge myself.

With the training wheels still on, and from the farthest corner of the garage from the open door, I pedaled full speed towards the driveway.

I had done it. I escaped the garage.

I was…..sh** tree stump.

Just as quickly as I leapt from the garage, I was flipping forward, and being tossed like a dart into the gravel. As I sat on the ground, with skinned up hands and knees, I swore I would never do that again.

I was convinced that it was safer to ride in the garage, and not to venture out into the scary wilderness, that is the unknown. To stay where I was comfortable.

And it’s understandable that I felt that way, because the risk that I had taken far exceeded my skill levels at the time. There was not a gradual build up of skills that would ensure I didn’t turn into a lawn dart being tossed about.

Because of that mismatch, that lack of gradual skill development, and because of the penalty that occurred as a result of it, I wanted to retreat, to hide, to play safe.

While I did go back to riding in circles in the garage, constantly reminded of the one time I ventured out, as I stared down the opening to the driveway, I did not stay there forever.

Fortunately, with the support of my father, we practiced riding around the garage without training wheels first. Then, as I gradually developed the balance and ability to ride without training wheels, and built up the confidence, I was ready to attempt to ride outside, once again.

To say fear was gone this time around would be a lie, and misguiding.

What had changed, though, was the gap between my available skills for a specific task, and the needed skills for a similar but more advanced task.

With those variables at play, I was able to continue improving my bike riding skills, and allowed me to possess some of my favorite childhood memories, today.

When we attempt to jump too far out of our comfort zone with an all or nothing mindset, without some awareness to the gap between current skills for specific tasks and needed skills for new/similar tasks…

We can find ourselves in situations where we take risks that lead to severe problems

OR

We will be so frightened by the perceived next step, that we don’t take any, and we just stay in our comfort zone.

Letting go of the all or nothing mindset, and being open to developing momentum through steps, will pay off way more in the end.

PS: Those steps, when taken, if they are new or unfamiliar, they will still feel like leaps at times, however, your ability to be resourceful and adapt on the fly is greatly improved.

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