She was sprawled out on the sidewalk, screaming bloody murder. The bike - a garage sale special (meaning there was no padding on the all-metal seat) - was still somehow attached to her.
She and I lived close to each other, and were about the same age, but I had no real interest in bikes when I was six. I wanted her to play dolls with me, but no. She was a tomboy through and through. And she really wanted to learn how to ride a bike.
Her parents bought her this scrap metal bike with what little money they had, took it home, cleaned it up with a bit of red spray paint, and after letting it dry, gave it to her.
She wasted no time. She hopped on (no training wheels), and took off down the neighborhood. I lived at the end of the street, so most of the kids used our house as the turnaround. I waited for her there.
She was no stranger to bikes. Most of the neighborhood kids had them and let her ride when parents weren't looking. Some with training wheels, some without. When this little girl climbed on her very own bike, she was a natural.
Still straddling the metal heap of a bicycle, but flat on her back, the girl was screaming bloody murder. Apparently, she hit a sidewalk bump where the concrete was broken up and the metal seat jammed her... in the... well, you know.
She lost control, the bike fell over, and she was sort of tangled up in it.
So much screaming. So much crying. I kept looking for blood, but didn't see any. Maybe she broke her leg or something. I thought for sure her folks were going to end up taking her to the hospital. Even her brother - who normally ignored his baby sister - set out to figure out if she was okay... or at least get the kid to stop crying and screaming.
Once they calmed her down, they realized that beyond the need for a padded seat, the only thing that was really bruised was her pride. So her father, in all his infinite wisdom, encouraged her to "stop crying like a baby and get back on the damn bike."
The little girl obediently climbed back on - after setting the bike back up and giving it a firm kick to show it who was boss. This time, instead of riding up and down the street, she practiced in my gravel driveway. She practiced turning, braking, and navigating the bike on "a bumpy road" as she called it. She even managed to teach herself to ride "standing up" so that the seat didn't get the best of her again.
She fell a few more times (gravel wipeouts - OUCH!), but under the watchful eye of her parents, she managed to get back up without shedding a single tear.
By dinnertime, she was racing one of the neighbor kids, giggling and playing as if she was a cycling pro.
Eat your heart out, Lance Armstrong!
Clarity + Confidence + Courage = Success
A colleague of mine once shared a similar equation with me. She was using it to talk about the power of irresistible presence, and how, when these three elements are combined, you are more able to show up in a magnetic and authentic way.
The more I looked at her equation, the more truth I saw.
Success in anything can ONLY come when we have these three elements in proper measure. Without all three, you'll fall short in some way. Don't believe me? Let's look and see:
Clarity alone won't make you a success.
One of the most important things I've ever done for myself was develop The PEACE System. It helps me have crystal clarity on my priorities for any given day. Coupled with my Dreamblazing program, I've created my perfect solution to knowing exactly what matters most in any given moment. I have total CLARITY on what to do, and why.
After she fell, that little girl had clarity that her bike had a few issues, and that she needed more practice riding with it before she took it out onto the broken sidewalks of our ghetto neighborhood.
But clarity alone only helps you see the bicycle. It doesn't give you insight into how to actually ride it. Clarity says "I need to learn how to ride the bike." Confidence says "This is how one rides a bike."
Clarity + Confidence ="Sexual Intellectual."
You know what that means right? No? Here's the Urban Dictionary definition. CONFIDENCE comes from this space of knowing. When you've got clarity, you can make some decisions about what to do, and what not to do. You can even help other people make decisions based on what you know. As a coach, I am lucky enough to work with clients that need to make changes in their lives and business, but if all I did was spout off my knowledge, or tell them what to do, I'd be nothing more than a "sexual intellectual" that no one wants to work with. What's more, if I left my clients in that space, they'd never make any forward progress.
Confidence is the by-product of practice. Practice can only happen in a safe space. Like learning to ride a bike, there's always a fear of falling down, but training wheels and a steady hand on the back of the seat can make all the difference between riding down the street and never getting on the bike in the first place.
Confidence is built when the action you take is positively reinforced. When that little girl got back up on the bike, her parents stood by (safe space) and encouraged her progress. When her progress was reinforced, it gave her the confidence to know that she could ride this bike.
That little girl knew she could ride a bike - she'd done it before. She just needed to figure out how to handle the particular quirks of this bike. She quickly realized the seat would be an issue, so she needed to learn how to ride standing up. That would pretty much solve her "cushion" problem.
But knowing is only half the battle (GI Joe!)... or in this case a third of the battle. Because all the clarity & confidence in the world won't help you if you don't have the courage to do something with what you know.
Courage without Clarity is arrogance.
For most people, if you've got courage, you've got confidence. COURAGE is the active piece to the "knowing" of Confidence. But sadly, people act with "courageous stupidity" all the time. You hear stories about someone accidentally setting their house on fire because they tried to kill a spider with a torch. Crazed drivers struck by road rage who speed up as someone tries to pass them - only to find out that person was a cop.
We all have something we're fighting for, something we believe in, something that in our bones we know to be true (that we'll defend to the bitter end). But without clarity (of what an appropriate response would be, for example), our courageous acts come off just plain arrogant or stupid.
This little girl could have thrown the bike to the ground in disgust and refused to ride it. After all, she "knew" she could ride a bike, and this one wasn't behaving properly. But because she also had clarity that this was the only bike her parents could afford, if she really wanted her very own bike to ride, she'd have to act differently.
Clarity says "I need to learn how to ride the bike." Confidence says "This is how one rides a bike." Courage says "This is me, riding this damn bike."
Want to learn more?
I'm leading a free workshop on Saturday March 14, 2015 to help you have more clarity, confidence, and courage in your life and business. If you're ready to learn how to create your own safe space to develop confidence and courage in your life and work, I hope you'll join me for this special, one-time-0nly workshop. You can learn more and register here. I'll also be sharing more about my Creative Freedom Apprenticeship and telling you how you could earn a scholarship to attend at no cost to you.