A few weeks ago my hubby and I took the kids out for a bike ride in one of the many amazing woodland areas of Dorset. Being out and about and generally seeking out mud is one of our favourite things, and certainly one I have embraced over the years.
Now we'd just upgraded the kids bikes so they had more gears on them, my 10 year old coped well, switching between them and soon finding his groove, my 8 year old found it a bit more tricky. For me, I'm not a keen cyclist, give me my favourite pair of trail running trainers and a few miles of muddy track ANYDAY, but these are the things you do for your kids correct??
We rode along, me having a totally different narrative play out in my head than the actual one of reality, 'Yes, we are doing amazingly, no wobbles at all', or 'Oh yes, I'm totally loving the bumps"... My daughter and I holding up the rear in more ways than one (seats are not made for bony sit bones) happily (!) riding along the track when, dun dun duuuuuun - we meet a hill. Husband is almost at the top of the hill, Son confidently making his way up it, me and my daughter slowly losing momentum, wibble wobbling all over the place.
You can imagine how my brain was starting to react. Already stinging with pain of a bony arse and tiny chair to put it on, I shout up ahead, 'How do we get up the hill?'. My husband glances over his shoulder and shouts, just stick it in second and ride', well my daughter looked at me with the most hilarious "shall you throat punch him or shall I" look about her, and we tried the instructions. Needless to say, in our minds, we both failed miserably as we'd lost too much speed, neither of us were particularly confident and very disheartened that we were at the bottom of the hill.
We pushed our bikes to the top, huffing and puffing and grumbling, 'rhubarb, rhubarb I muttered under my breath...' with lots of words to describe my husband and his idea about riding bikes with gears in the forest. Of course the next time we approached a hill, we both hopped off our bikes and pushed them up because we'd concluded in our minds, we were not skilled enough to ride them uphill just yet.
Later that week I was chatting to a client specifically about confidence in her leadership for an interview she was preparing for. I told her the story of our cycling day out, that my husband had thought he had nailed his leadership and instruction and yet my daughter and I didn't ever ride up the hill and paused. She was a very wise lady who was an avid cyclist (a fact I already knew) and immediately smiled and said, 'oh no, I tell you what he should have done, when you come to a hill you have to weave up it in a low gear, it's much easier than riding straight up it'. She continued, 'I would have ridden back down and shown you how, it's much easier that way'.
I asked her what difference she thought this would have made to our experience, we concluded that not only would we have wibble wobbled up the hill, that both my daughter and I would know what to do next time we came to a hill. She explained she might need to meet us half way next time to offer some encouragement, but for certain it would be a more enjoyable experience for us both.
The other element of her leadership and teaching style was that now we would be more confident and equipped with some knowledge about how to ride up a hill that we could pass on to others through our lived experience.
I'm not suggesting my Hubby was wrong (would I ever do that?!) but in that circumstance, we needed an alternative style of leadership than simply yelling instructions and a vote of confidence. His style got results, but not the sort that meant the people he was guiding felt confident and able to meet the challenge ahead either the first time or future times.
I can happily report that we wibble and wobble side by side, weaving up hills now, the seat is still incredibly uncomfortable despite my best eating efforts to add a bit of meat to my bony arse but the point is as a group we get to the top of the hill every time and sometimes we have a look back at the top at how far we have come.