Monday, February 23, 2015

Taking off the training wheels

My wife, Jilda, wrote a poignant blog post about training wheels this week. Her blog, entitled “Transformation Information,” is about embracing life changes.
The inspiration for her entry was when our great nephew Jordan learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels. The sheer joy on his face with those first few feet of freedom made my heart soar along with his. I experienced that sensation in my life many times when I outgrew my training wheels.
I guess you could say my dad was like “training wheels,” as I learned to drive. He’d slide over close to me when I slipped behind the wheel and speak as calmly as a monk as he gave me the basic instructions.
“Not too heavy on the gas,” “Be mindful of the chickens, they’re not smart,” and “Keep it between the RC signs,” were some of the instructions I remember him giving.
The first time I drove alone, my heart soared like the proverbial eagle.
I felt a similar sense of triumph this past week when my first group of students received training certificates.
They came through the BACK TO WORK 50+ at Bevill State Community College last month. Six of them received scholarships to attend Computer Office Familiarization training. This training puts them closer to finding a job.
I coached these students over the past few months, and some of them seemed almost defeated. They had been unsuccessful in their job search.
Requirements for most jobs include a basic understanding of computers. Applicants without those skills never get an interview.
On the last day of classes, I stopped by to join in the celebration. We all lined up to pose for a picture. Everyone had a reason to smile. In a sense, these folks took off their training wheels and learned something life-changing. As we stood there, my spirit soared along with theirs.
It takes courage to remove the training wheels. “What if I stumble? What if I fail?”
Fear can be immobilizing. It seems like such a long time ago, but I remember being fearful to start back to college.
What if I’m too old?
What if I’m not smart enough?
What if I fail? These questions kept me up at night as I struggled with the decision about going back to school.
Looking back, it almost seems comical. School wasn’t a breeze, but when times got tough, I buckled down and did the work.
In May of 1997, I graduated with a master’s degree. Marching across the stage to receive my diploma with my mom and other family members looking on was a highpoint in my life. My heart soared.
This much I know for sure: training wheels are a great place to begin. You find your balance and get comfortable without the fear of falling.
The only way you’ll ever experience the bliss that comes with that first ride alone is to lose the training wheels. I can promise you, your heart will soar.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. One of the best comparative equasions I have seen. I like it. A down to earth entry that makes me think.
    There are times I want to stop the wheels from rolling for just a couple semesters. To take a couple English courses and one on pasic Art. It would be nice not to be embarrassed when sending my work to an editor and proofer :-0.
    I am smiling now, I had a mason tackle a job once that was tough, he said, "Don't worry Jack, I'll make you look good, and he did. I think my editors and proofers do to, but I would like to hand them better stuff. :0.

  3. (Smile) this one touched a nerve, fixing my own comment proves it. :(

  4. It'd hard to take of those training wheels, but you can't really soar or pick up speed until you do.

  5. You're right, Rick. The fear of failure stops all of us in our tracks at some point in life. I started college at 32, the first in my family to go to college, and a long 15 years after high school graduation. It wasn't always easy, but I finished with a Master's degree ahead of schedule and enjoyed many years of working in my field. If you can only lose the fear, there's no tellilng what you can do.

  6. Oh yeah I so can relate to this, I remember the first time my daughter drove on her own I was so bloody nervous

  7. A good post Rick. Training wheels are within our comfort zone, driving ahead without them puts us out of our comfort zone but it's the only way to move ahead and change what we can, then we feel the growth and that makes us feel good about ourselves.

    Improving the lives of others is a great satisfaction for you, I can see. Job well done...



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