I didn’t teach my daughter to ride her bike without training wheels, but my husband did. He also taught me a lesson: mindset is everything.
Sometimes my six-year-old daughter cries at even the thought of failure. But other times, she is fearless and easily conquers her challenges. Two years ago, we traded out the tricycle for a big girl bike, with training wheels of course. My daughter seemed to have a hard time even with the training wheels. She often fell off the bike and refused to push the pedals hard enough to make the bike move. After many tears and many tough bike rides, she grew more comfortable riding her bike and enjoyed it, with training wheels.
Leaning in the Right Direction
Fast forward two years and my husband took off one training wheel. That’s right, one training wheel. I had never heard of such a thing. He assured me that it would help her learn to balance. Begrudgingly, I took her outside and I watched her struggle. She leaned to one side and fell, and fell, and fell some more. I was afraid she would be permanently discouraged from riding her bike. Sure enough, after a few days of bike riding fails, she chose the scooter over the bike, until, one busy hump day at the office, I heard a buzz. Buzz. Buzz. I glanced over at my phone and noticed a video text message waiting for me. When I opened the video, I watched my daughter ride her bike down the driveway, without training wheels! I felt such a wild range of emotions. It made me excited and relieved to see that she finally learned to ride her bike. But I was also confused and shocked that I wasn’t the parent that taught her.
Let’s back up. My husband has cerebral palsy. He has limited mobility in his legs and he is not able to ride a bike without several accommodations. We called around and a hand pedal bike for him would total up to something just short of the cost of a small spaceship. Just to be clear, my husband has never ridden a bike without training wheels in his life. His parents bought him a bike right before one of his major surgeries, with the promise that he would be able to ride the bike after the surgery “fixed him.” Though the surgery accomplished something valuable, it didn’t meet the bike riding expectation. His bike was quickly parted out by his brothers. I’m sure this devastated him.
The Bigger Lesson
My husband taught our daughter to ride her bike without training wheels that day, but he taught me the bigger lesson. I learned that when coupled with a sincere source of motivation, the mind’s capacity is limitless and has unrivaled power. Our daughter overcame her negative mindset about bike riding. Each time she fell, she verbally declared, I can’t do this, or this is too hard. Her daddy responded with motivational and empowering affirmations by reassuring her that he believes in her and reminding her to believe in herself.
My husband did not run alongside the bike like I imagined myself doing so many times in preparation for that moment. He did not teach her by example, by riding a bike himself. He did not help her to pedal or assist in balancing the bike. Instead, he calmly explained the sheer mechanics of how bikes work. You know, momentum, propulsion, and gravity. Basic topics for a 6-year-old. But somehow, the technical information and the earnest motivation were the driving force for her success.
Mindset is Everything
I should expect no less since my husband is a mindfulness life coach. Mindfulness is a hot trending therapeutic practice which promotes a deep sense of self-awareness. It suggests that being aware of your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations give you more control over the outcome. Although I have probably heard the mantra, “you can do anything that you put your mind to,” a hundred times, it did not become real to me until our daughter learned to ride her bike. Hence, shifting her mindset. My husband used his mind to teach a skill that he has never physically experienced or mastered. His tenacity never ceases to amaze me.
This experience had me re-evaluate how I exercise the power of my mind. Carefully consider the quality of the thoughts in your mind concerning your ability. Are your thoughts promoting your success or supporting your self-doubt? I am still growing in this area, but I am grateful for the life-changing power of my husband’s mind.