Once upon a time a small child saw a big teenager riding a bike. He admired the teenager’s skill, and he decided that he wanted to be able to ride a bike too. At first the idea of peddling fast and staying upright was frightening. So he tested the experience in a safe environment.
The child found an old bike in his family’s garage, and he pushed it up to a workbench and put the kickstand down. He then climbed up onto the workbench and then slid over to the bike seat. And there he sat, turning the handlebars and imagining he was racing down a road.
After a while, the child carefully got down off the bike, looked under the workbench and found some old training wheels. His mom helped him put the training wheels on so he could start to take rides all by himself. It took some time in the driveway, but he finally he learned how to pedal and how to brake. Then he worked up his courage to take the next big step. He removed the training wheels and was ready to take off into a whole new world. But the first attempts at gaining balance were awkward.
His neighbor from across the street looked out his window and saw him struggling to ride. The neighbor walked over to lend a hand. He steadied the bike as the child began this next step in his biking-skill development. After a few times with hands-on support, he was ready. “Let me go,” he said. Wow! What a feeling of freedom and control. Then he looked down, lost his focus and crashed hard. It hurt. He wasn’t sure he wanted to hurt again, but he got back on the bike anyway. Something inside made him know that if he didn’t push through this tough spot, he would never reach his goal.
Finally he got his balance – and stayed upright and moving steady. He rode more each day and had fewer crashes. Lessons were learned, skill increased and his confidence grew.
One afternoon when he was riding, he met another young biker. They became fast friends. Days were spent racing on the street, competing on homemade obstacle courses, learning new bike tactics together, making mistakes and getting better.
Over time the young biker began to see more clearly what he was good at and what he was not so good at. Bicycling feedback is fast, very clear and often painful. His strengths grew stronger, and weak areas became less apparent. He started making better riding decisions.
Sometimes other people watched him take a risk on a big hill or real curvy road and crash. Most people sighed and helped him get back up, but some people laughed at him. When anyone laughed, at first he got mad and tried to get back at the jeerers. Then one day he asked one of the critics for advice on how to avoid a crash next time. The naysayer’s feedback really helped, and he gained a friend. Although that was not always the case, he found could learn from almost everyone, if he listened. His confidence rose, and his circle of friends grew.
It’s good to have several friends, but everyone needs one big encourager, someone who is totally committed to your success and will always tell you the truth. He had that someone. When he was first learning, he remembered his neighbor peeking through the blinds at him as he struggled along. He had never stopped looking out for him. Over the years, this wise mentor observed him as his skills and judgment increased and supported him as he took longer trips and tried more challenging bike adventures.
Riding past a small house one morning he noticed a child standing in the yard watching him. He slowed down and looked back. In that young person’s eyes, he recognized the same desire that had captured his imagination years ago. He waved then made a U-turn in the street. He rode up in the yard beside the youngster and put his kickstand down. The child asked if he might he sit on the seat. He said sure. They talked for a while about bicycles and then he left for home. When he arrived there, he went into the garage, looked around the workbench for something and found it.
Later that day he headed back to that child’s house with his old training wheels in his lap and a steady grip on his handlebars.
Journal Entry: Who are the people who helped you stay upright, challenged you to grow and cared enough to speak truth to you over the years? Who do you know today that needs a steady encourager who will peek in on them and offer a timely push as they pedal their way to where they want to go in their leadership and life?
The best test (of a servant leader) and diffucult to adminster is : do those served grow as persons; do they, while being served , become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become a servant (mentor)? – from Servant as Leader by Robert Greenleaf
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25
Go to the people, learn from them, love them, start with what they know, and build on what they have. But of the best of leaders, when their task is accomplished and their work is done, ‘We have done it ourselves,’ the people will all remark. – Chinese Poem, 23 BC
Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults. – Benjamin Franklin
Success in life is determined by the decisions you make. Significance in life is determined by the decisions you help other people make. – Michael Alan Tate