Risk and Reinvention Posted on Mar 9, 2016 by Susan Sparks

Lose The Training Wheels

Taken from my blog on Psychology Today.

Human beings and Harley Davidsons are a lot alike. You never know their full potential until you get them out on the open road.

I realized that early on in my riding experience. Immediately after I got my license, I proceeded to buy a Harley Sportster, which was a much bigger bike than the one on which I learned. Unfortunately, I chose to “test drive” the bike not on the open road, but in a parking lot doing figure eights (a difficult move requiring a seasoned sense of control and balance).

Not surprisingly, I lost control of the bike and hit a guard rail. To make matters worse, I did all this in front of a passing police car. The officer came over and after helping me bring the bike upright, he said with a smirk, “maybe you’d better keep the training wheels on a bit longer.”

It was a harsh blow. But rather than letting it go, I took those words to heart. As a result, I didn’t get back on the bike for a very long time. I just kept making excuses:

“I can’t get back on. He’s probably right, I have no business riding.”

“I can’t get back on, I might fall.”

“I can’t get back on, I just need a little more time.”

Biker or not, we all have our training wheels in life; the excuses we use when we don’t want to move out of our comfort zone.

It’s easier to live life with training wheels. It’s less scary. It’s less threatening. But life with training wheels is also less meaningful. It’s like Edgar Lee Masters wrote in the poem, The George Gray, “It’s like a boat with furled sails at rest in a harbor, longing for the sea, and yet afraid.”

What opportunity is unfolding in the path in front of you? And what excuses — what training wheels are you leaning on?

Are you leaning too hard on what others say? At one time or another we have all been the target of unkind words. Sadly we tend to let those words sink in and take root. And soon your heart is overgrown with doubt.

An unfortunate fact of life is that people will try and limit your potential; they will tell you that you can’t do it or that you aren’t good enough. Never let the world tell you what is possible. Just remember those who discourage your dreams probably do so because they had their own dreams destroyed.

Is your excuse that you might fail? Three things are sure in this life: death, taxes and mistakes. They are going to happen. We simply need to change our perspective. When asked how it felt to fail 2000 times trying to invent the light bulb, Thomas Edison replied, “I never failed once. It just happened to be a 2000 step process.”

We will make mistakes in life. We will fail. The question is whether we use it as an excuse or as experience. The playwright Samuel Beckett wrote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Are you using the excuse of time? “Oh I’m not quite ready, I just need a little more time.” On its face, this doesn’t appear to be an excuse. We’re only asking for extra time. In reality, however, this is a dangerous excuse that sneaks up on us. We delay and wait and make more excuses until eventually we don’t even remember what we were delaying. Worse, fear builds up over time and what originally was a rather minor issue looms ahead as an insurmountable obstacle.

My first memory of training wheels was learning to ride a small Schwinn with my Dad. I remember offering all nature of excuses when he suggested we take off the training wheels. Eventually I ran out of excuses, at which point he smiled and said, “no … I think it’s time.”

Years later that advice still rings true. It – is – time.

What opportunities are unfolding in the path in front of you? And what excuses, what training wheels are you leaning on?

The day I bought my new Harley the salesman was explaining how much he loved these motorcycles. Finally, he paused and said, “Look, words can’t do this bike justice. The only way you’ll know for sure is to fire it up and take it out.” Good advice for a bike and for life.

Don’t waste your time on excuses. Don’t miss the opportunities offered. Lose the training wheels. Remember human beings and Harley Davidsons are a lot alike. You never know their full potential until you get them out on the open road.