Like Learning to Ride a Bike

This Labor Day weekend has been stressful.  Not because I had to work while everyone was off sunbathing by the lake but because I was off and decided to tackle a project that I really didn’t want to do.

That project?  Re-teaching my 8 year old son how to ride his bike.   Sounds easy because re-teaching should just take a gentle nudge, an encouraging word or a trip down memory lane to recollect about how he rode his bike last summer.  As a matter of fact, he rode his bike just two weeks ago.  But, two weeks ago he also fell off his bike (in the grass so don’t shed too many tears) and that led to the drama that we have experienced over the holiday.

After the first day of two straight hours of crying, snotting and stomping of feet I was optimistic that day two would be much improved. WRONG!  Day two was even worse!  With both sides of my neck all tied up in knots because my head was about to explode from frustration, I realized that my expectations of myself and my son may be unrealistic.

I think we both have unrealistic expectations because outside of this learning to ride a bike thing, everything else comes pretty easy for us.   At work, I am an effective manager and executive coach.   I’m seen as the resident expert on answering the question “Why aren’t the employees doing what they’re supposed to be doing?”  On the Friday before our bike meltdown, I was advising a very senior person in my company on the strategies we should take with performance management.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and I’ve got a trembling kid screaming at me,    “I can’t do it!”   Performance Management Fail!

My son is extremely intelligent, makes all A’s at school, and won first place at his regional speech meet.   At school he helps other kids with their homework.  The neighbor boys say, “he knows words I’ve never heard of.”

But on Saturday morning he’s standing in the middle of our driveway screaming at me, “I can’t do it!”  From his view he’s a failure.

So what do we learn from this?  One, it’s never worth damaging a relationship to  get the task done.  Good advice for home and work.  Secondly, it will all come in time so don’t give up.  No doubt I won’t have to repeat this blog post for the next five years.  Eventually it will all click and he’ll be able to ride his bike.

Until then, he and I just both need to understand that everything can’t be easy. It’s a good lesson for an 8 year old and I guess for his 38 year old mother too!


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