How to Ride a Bike


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My youngest daughter has just turned 5. She is a big girl now. For her birthday we gave her a bicycle, it is all pink and sparkly and covered in princesses (you can never have too many pink sparkly princesses). Last weekend we took her out to ride it then..

My wife and I went to war

  • Mummy logic: The little darling needs stabilisers so she doesn’t fall off and hurt herself
  • Daddy logic: Take the little brat to the top of a hill and give her a shove, it never hurt me

Views became entrenched, battle lines were drawn, tempers flared…

Of course Mummy was wrong

But Daddy wasn’t right either (though as he is writing this that statement doesn’t get highlighted).

The only way to learn how to ride a bike is to fall off, and get back on again.

  • She won’t fall off if she has stabilisers
  • She is unlikely to get back on again of she has just been catapulted down Skafell Pike.

If you want to learn, then you have to fail, usually more than once.

Here is the contentious point:

If you don’t learn anything new unless you fail… then when you try something and it works, all you do is reinforce what you already believed to be true, you don’t learn from the experience.

So the only way to get better is to fail

And if you buy my logic (which is always faultless) then we have some problems with our organisations:

Non of whom ever climb onto the bicycle, let alone fall off it.

Falling of a bicycle is a good thing

Just try to avoid doing it at speed

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Learning to Ride

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Image by Michael Neubert

Republished with author's permission from original post.

James Lawther
James Lawther is a middle-aged middle manager. To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for many organisations, from supermarkets to tax collectors and has had multiple roles from running a night shift to doing operational research. He gets upset by operations that don't work and mildly apoplectic about poor customer service.


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