Want to try new things? Get on your bike and ride

BikeInnovation? Trying new things? Conquering fears and overcoming obstacles? It's all as easy as riding a bike.

My 6-year-old daughter recently decided to ditch the training wheels and master the art of the two-wheeler. In her mind, it would be a piece of cake ... and for the most part, it was. Stuff like that comes embarrassingly easy to her. After two days of bumps and bruises, she was an expert.

That doesn't mean she didn't learn a few lessons along the way, though.

Follow the leader: My daughter couldn't have cared less about riding a two-wheeler until she saw her next-door neighbor doing it. At that point, she had to do it, and she had to do it now. (She used that same sort of positive peer pressure to muster up the courage to jump off the diving board at the local pool.) Now, doing something just because someone else did it first isn't exactly the best strategy, but learning from the success of others makes a lot of sense, and that's just what my daughter did. She watched her neighbor learn to ride, then tried to do the same thing. And you know what? Now that she can ride, she can blaze her own trails.

A little pain can be a good thing: What's that old saying about picking yourself up and brushing yourself off? That's how you learn things. For a while, my daughter stopped her bike by running into things -- the garage, the patio table, the basketball hoop. Got a few scrapes along the way, too. In the process, she learned what the hand brake was for and -- more important -- how to steer. Jeremy Gutsche, "chief trend hunter" with TrendHunter.com, calls it "forced failure": If you want to try new things -- if you want to innovate -- you're going to have to fail a few times along the way.

Fear is part of the game. Anger and frustration? Not so much: The first time Mom or Dad lets go of that bike can be scary. Suddenly you're on your own, with no training wheels to catch you. Sure, it's frightening. But that ride-or-fall ultimatum is a powerful motivator. A couple of times when she fell, though, my daughter pushed her bike to the ground in frustration -- and giving in to frustration makes giving up an attractive option. Once she realized that everyone falls now and then, she hopped right back on the bike and tried again.

Have fun: That's the reason we take the training wheels off in the first place, isn't it?

How did you learn to ride?


Bill Sheridan