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Change-Three Keys to Real Change

Three Keys to Real Change

By Frank Kelly


Like many families, mine has experienced many of the ups and downs as well as many milestones that families encounter. One of these was when my daughter approached the time to remove her “little bike” training wheels and learn to ride her bike using balance. There were two important problems standing in her way.

Courtney, when she gets nervous about something like this, gets hyper-scared and needs tons of reassurance to get comfortable enough to succeed.

The other involved my inability to run from my spinal cord injury. I was unable to run beside her in a conventional way, to provide that assurance as she tried to learn.

Realizing that she was depending on me, I decided to reach out to the owner of our bike shop who had helped me in the past with unique ways for me to overcome my own riding problems with my inury. We thought together and then he gave me some advice on how to succeed. I returned home and we got started the next day.

I removed the pedals from her bike and just told her to sit on the bike and push with her feet around the garage in a circle. I stood still in the middle and just watched her, carefully offering bits of assurance when needed. She basically started out walking around the garage straddling the bike. After about ten minutes she got bored, but we kept at it for 15 minutes a day.  Progress was slow. We wound up spending hours over many days. But, as she got comfortable, she began to sit on the seat and push. Over time, she pushed faster and began to lift her feet briefly and began to develop balancing skills and confidence, if just slightly.

After some time at this, we moved to the driveway. It was a slight incline and I would have her start at the top, with her pushing from one end to the other. Once again, the incline made her go slow. Once again, hours over many days coupled with assurance and patience slowly yielded results. She began to coast down the incline with her feet up. Then, we began the process all over again, this time with the pedals on. Eventually, she would start putting her feet on the pedals as she felt comfortable and eventually developed the skills to start pedalling. In all, we probably spent about 3 months, but the out of the box thinking with advice yielded results.

Nowadays, she rides through the neighborhoods with me and soon, she will start the organized rides that I participate in. Eventually, she will out ride me with ease. Looking back it was a great example of patience and persistance on her part.

In present day society, when we can answer any question in 5 seconds by speaking into our phones and we get mad when our drive thru hamburger is not ready in 6 minutes, the patience and effort it requires to effect real change in our lives can be hard to come by. Many times, when we're going through the routine of our normal lives, time and effort is, for the most part, a known quantity. It's when problems arise and we get into uncharted territory that we really need that skill. Sadly, some do not have it and it results in settling, ignoring or a whole variety of coping mechanisms which usually results in long term problems.

I have found three tips to develop these skills anytime, which then stand by the ready when life throws you a curveball, no matter what the severity. I've used them myself many times.

1) Never stop looking for opportunities to learn new skills. It doesn't have to be a life changing skill. Take a class, have a friend show you how to do something or volunteer to do a job that you've never done. These kinds of things challenge the way you usually do things and forces you to sometimes think out of the box in a safe way. It also takes patience to learn something new. These skills are invaluable when making little changes or the big ones that come with tragedy. Waiting until you need it to start can cause a lot of extra stress and can derail efforts to change. They are skills that take time to develop.

2) Purposely work on active patience. Society today has minimized the patience needed for a lot of things. But major life changes always need it to be navigated to their fullest. Getting out from under debt, medical problems, marriage issues and a lot of other roadblocks do not go away overnight. Active patience, meaning active at the proper, consistant pace, minimizes frustration and solves problems faster and better in the long run.

3) Persistance - We all have marathons in life. Persistance is a developed skill that gets us over them. That doesn't mean just blindly carrying out a bad idea to it's logical failure. What it does mean is when a thoughtful idea is needed for a solution to a big problem, it is rarely accomplished without the ability to stay the course when you feel like quitting. 

What about you? With Courtney I didn’t feel up to the task, but she needed me my time, effort and my ability to look at old problems in new ways. These skills, I count as among my most important, especially when I need to adapt to life's changes. They have worked to teach a child to ride a bike, as well as putting my life back together after a spinal cord injury. You too can effect change if you are willing to examine these skills and others. Blessings!

Copyright James Franklin Kelly, 2020

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