Monday, 18 May 2009

Taking Inspiration From My Daughter

Two days ago my daughter Elsa (3 1/2) announced that she'd
like to cycle herself to school - a local Chinese
kindergarten just round the corner from where we live. Her
bike was last year's birthday present from her ayi (like a
Chinese nanny). But Elsa never really got the hang of it
before winter came. She would only pedal backwards.

Now, I'm naturally quite an impatient person, and mornings
- before the coffee has kicked in - are not my best time.
But I knew it would be wrong to simply grab hold of the
handlebars and drag an oblivious backwards-pedalling Elsa
speedily to school. I forced myself to patiently explain to
her the principles of forward motion.

She tried hard to comply, but our progress was shaky at
best. It took a full 15 minutes to navigate the mere 100
metres to the school, and we collided with a fair few
parked cars en route.

So today I got the bike ready with a sinking heart. But I
was pleasantly surprised... in the space of 24 hours, Elsa
had improved dramatically. She was actually able to cycle
unaided for a good portion of the way, and this time the
neighbours' cars survived unscathed.

I felt the ridiculously disproportionate pride of any
parent witnessing their darling child doing something for
the first time.

And it made me think. If you've ever made pancakes, you'll
know how the first pancake is always a bit tricky. It
resists flipping, tending to stick a bit, and often comes
out a bit thin and apologetic looking. The next pancakes
are usually a lot better. But we still eat that first
pancake - it tastes just the same as its more convincing
successors even if it doesn't look quite the polished
article. It's basically the same message, but one that is
worth repeating: we too often believe that our first
attempt at something reflects all we are capable of. It's
hard to plough on in our learning period, making mistakes
- and sometimes even going backwards! But Elsa had proven
to me the amount of progress that could be made in just one
day. I resolved anew to push through my self-imposed
comfort zones.

Where are you too comfortable? Set yourself a small goal
that will expand your knowledge or develop a skill. What's
your equivalent of Elsa's 100 metre bike ride?


About the Author:

Sarah helps mid-career professionals transition from the
corporate world to self-employment "off the beaten path".
Her clients want to follow a passion, express their
creativity or help people or society in some way - and at
the same time to lead a richer, more family-friendly
lifestyle. Sign up to Sarah's FREE mini e-course 5 Keys to
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