Bicycles and Flowers!

The past week of lockdown mainly involved bicycles and flowers.  My youngest daughter has found a passion for cycling.  The more challenging and greater distance the better.  This has resulted in the whole family touring around the Mearns on our bicycles.  If asked, ‘can you ride a bicycle?’ My response would definitely be ‘yes’.  If asked my level of skill in riding a bicycle I would need to say it is low.  I noticed while cycling on loose gravel and stones, going downhill (very brave!) I was so cautious; I actually made the descent more complex, as I was overthinking how sore falling off would be.  I was catastrophising about the outcome that would have been less likely had I focused on the task at hand, rather than the distraction of a negative outcome.

This got me thinking about the phrase, ‘you never forget how to ride a bicycle’.  This theory is based on procedural memory, long term memory which helps with the performance of tasks without conscious awareness, so on my bicycle, I admit I never considered how to balance, or how to move my legs to propel the bicycle.  My challenge was aligned to the ‘fail’ phase of the Predictive Cycle by Tadlock (2005)¹.

  • Attempt
  • Fail
  • Implicitly analyse the result
  • Implicitly decide how to change the next attempt so that success is achieved

Tadlock suggests these stages are repeated over and over until the learner builds or remodels the neural network to guide an activity appropriately and accurately without conscious thought.

So, what happened with my cycling?  I didn’t fall off, but I equally didn’t gain any more confidence in being off-road.  I stopped at the stage of attempt and/or fail.  I didn’t spend any time analysing or creating a strategy around how to improve as we were in the moment and moved onto the tarmac terrain with the feeling of relief as the off-road section was over.

How does this link to being a leader?  Have you found yourself:

  • in a situation you are unsure about
  • feeling uncomfortable
  • feeling at risk
  • worrying about what might be (catastrophising)
  • not being present in the moment
  • moving on quickly once the event/risk has passed, while not considered future approaches (lessons learned)

Only now, writing this am I actually thinking about how I will approach our next cycling outing, this list above has really helped me start to analyse my results and consider how to improve next time.

In the context of being a leader in this fast-paced time.  There are new scenarios and challenges coming up multiple times a day.  Take a couple of minutes to think about what is or has happened?  How can you do something to reach the best outcome possible now and for the future?

What about the flowers? 

The other thing we spent time doing this week was planting our bedding plants.  At the moment the plants are little, leafy solitary plants all in their own space.  At this stage these plants feel like effort, but in a couple of weeks the plants will be blooming beautifully, bringing colour and wildlife into the garden.  It will be hard to see which flowers comes from which plant.  The pots will be bursting with life.

The effort that goes into the future now can have positive results for you and your business.  What are you doing now to nurture your team and business for the future?

Coaching is a great way to move forward in the moment and the future.  Coaching need not be a long-term commitment.  At this time of continual change 1 or 2 coaching conversations could really help you move your thoughts or business forward with positively.

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1.Tadlock, D.: Read Right! Coaching Your Child to Excellence in Reading by Dee Tadlock, Ph.D. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005

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