Boom, first week of the new year is done & we're already into the second week. When you think about there being 365 days in a year it sounds like a long way off, but when you think that there are only 52 weeks in a year and we're already down to 51, it makes the time seem so much shorter. Like anything in life, it's the perspective we choose to view a situation that determines how we feel about it, how we perceive it & how it can either motivate us or even tear us a part.
This week I had so much I wanted to accomplish, & while I checked off so many boxes I still ended the week feeling a little bit like I failed. As I write this blog post it's a bit like a therapy session where I'm assuring myself that while I feel like I didn't live up to my weekly potential, I still accomplished a lot. It's an interesting thing to analyze your own thoughts & journal about them, especially publicly, but at the same time quite therapeutic. One of the main reasons I've chosen to enter into writing a blog & doing 1-minute vlog posts on Instagram is the fact that it also puts me outside of my comfort zone & challenges me to try something I'm not very confident in, leaving myself vulnerable to criticism but also with a chance to improve a new skill set.
This week I was also reminded about being challenged while encouraging my daughter, Ellie, to ride her "big girl" bike outside of the backyard & around a nearby school parking lot. As we left our house, Ellie became very fearful of heading down the street, which took me by surprise because this girl has an incredible amount of confidence on her bike in our yard. She is still on training wheels, so I'm trying to start to build up her courage to take them off by giving her more open space to ride in. As we began our ride today I thought we would never get to the school. She was extremely hesistant only moving inches at a time before she would put the brakes on. I wanted to ride alongside her initially, but I quickly figured out this wasn't going to work. What she needed was for her daddy to WALK alongside her, so she could feel the comfort & safety of knowing I would be there to catch her if she fell.
This is where being a dad becomes confusing, challenging & endearing all at the same time. You don't receive a manual when you become a father, because honestly if someone wrote one, it wouldn't apply to every kid. Every child is born with their own unique personality & its been so interesting raising 3 of my own because its more clear to see their individuality. They're being raised by the same two parents, with the same genetics, & in the same household, yet their personalities & birth order are clear factors in what makes them unique. I have probably had to coach Ellie & encourage her to try things way more than I have had to with my boys, not necessarily just because she's a girl, but because she is the oldest & everything I do with her is usually the first time someone in our house is trying it. Her brothers watch her every move & will practically fall in line to try whatever it is that she's doing.
Back to Ellie being on our bike ride... as I was now walking beside her you could see her gathering more & more courage. We went from moving inches to feet, feet to yards, & before you knew it, we were actually making progress toward the school. Her attitude changed from one of fear, to one of determination, & as I encrouraged her, she even began to dish out some sweet assurances that are priceless with phrases like "I love you daddy." "You're the best dada" "Look daddy I'm doing it!" "I'm going faster" Its amazing how at such a young age, these little people can project so much love. There are so many moments where you feel like you're failing as a parent & your kid will give you the biggest hug, or do something totally unexpected & sweet, & its these little rewards that make you feel like you might actually be doing something right.
Ellie eventually made it to the school, she rode her bike increasingly faster, started to go up & down ramps, over bumpy sections & at one point told me to stay in one spot as she rode away by herself. Not only had she built up enough courage to move more than inches, she was now not even needing me to be by her at all. When we went back home she wanted to race me & very clearly expressed that she wanted to do this again tomorrow. PARENTING WIN. What started out seeming like a fail, where I almost decided "I guess we'll have to try this another day", ended with a hopeful moment of joy & time well spent with my first born.
What's even funnier about this situation, is I constantly have these moments on the bike myself. Especially now that I'm a father, I am more fearful of riding on roads with traffic, more fearful of crashes, all because I'm fearful of missing out on these important moments with my kids. When Ellie was only about 6 months old I got in a bike crash while racing my road bike that ended up knocking my front teeth out & messing up my writing hand pretty bad. That realization of how fast something can go wrong while on the bike has definitely caused a bit more hesitation on me progressing at a sport that I've loved since I was a kid. This past week I went on a ride with my buddy Weston & there was a section of rocks that I wouldn't even go down because I feared failing & falling hard, I was again outside of my comfort zone.
As an adult, how do we build up the courage to try new things? When you're on your own, how do you motivate yourself to accomplish things you fear failing at? We no longer have the physical hand holders in our life, so how do we overcome these fears? I believe in the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will encourage you to be better is the first step. My wife is such a strong support when it comes to encouragement, & while you all may not have that spouse or significant other, you can find that support through friends, family or mentors. It also reminds us of the importance of making yourself available to be that mentor to someone else. The best way to get better at something is to have someone that is actually better than you show you the way, but sometimes having to teach someone something makes you sharpen your skills because you have to break down an action you may do a bit more on autopilot had you done it alone. I learned this while teaching photography a few years ago, & I practice this daily as a parent. While we might not all have the access to the people we dream of being our mentors, there are so many resources in books, youtube videos, & conferences that you can dive into to make yourself better.
In cycling I ride with friends who are better than me, people who can literally ride in front of me at times that can show me the right line to take. In business I have a few friends that I discuss ideas with constantly & give me advice on steps to take to get where I want to be. With my finances I have an amazing financial advisor that helps me make sense of a world that is so far over my head at times. When I was starting out in photography I assisted as many local pros that I could in order to learn the trade. And as a father I'm constantly talking to other dad's about our daily struggles & successes & its so encouraging to hear about the times when we all feel like we've failed, because you know you're not the only one. Often times you learn the most from the times you've failed, or by talking to someone who has been there before that can help guide you past the pitfalls.
In conclusion, I leave you with two quotes that I love to encourage you to step outstide of your comfort zone, take chances, & view every challenge as an opportunity to better yourself this year.
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" -Wayne Gretzky (or Michael Scott 😉)
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Sir Winston Churchill
Photo: Weston Ring