This week many of us celebrated Father’s Day. Some of our fathers are not living, yet their influence and memories live on forever. We learned lessons because of, or in spite of, our experiences with our dads. I decided to honor my father, Joseph Morris, and the positive influence he made in my life. I am who I am because of his gentle spirit and total acceptance of me – even when I dyed my hair orange when I was a teen! 🙂
The text below is the introduction from my book, Take the Ride of Your Life! Shift Gears for More Balance, Growth, and Joy. I hope you enjoy a bit of my history. I’d like to hear your stories about how your father influenced you in the comment section below.
When people ask me how I got the idea for Take the Ride of Your Life!, I tell them that the inspiration was simple. A few years ago, I went to Dallas to meet with Juanell Teague, a professional speaker’s coach.
She gave me an assignment before my session with her: Make a list of the turning points in my life and
figure out how they have impacted who I am today.
One turning point I identified was a lesson I learned when my father taught me how to ride my two-wheel
bike — without the training wheels. I remember the day I got that bike. It was red with white streamers flowing from the handlebars. I was so excited; I was also scared out of my mind. You see, I wasn’t as physically coordinated as some of my friends. I was always — I mean always — the last one chosen for kickball.
Fortunately, my father understood me. He knew how embarrassed I would be trying to learn to ride my bike with all my friends watching from their front porches on Kentucky Street in Detroit. He wanted to take me to a place where I would be comfortable. So, every night after he came home from work, we would walk my new bike to the empty parking lot next to the bank. There were no cars or people in sight.
Then he would give me a pep talk: “Falling is okay. I know you will eventually learn if you trust yourself. Are you ready? Get on that bike. Pedal . . . pedal . . . pedal.” Inspired, I eagerly hopped on the bike and, just as quickly, fell off.
My dad told me, “Remember, I said you might fall. It’s okay. Just get back on.” I got back on and fell
again. “Remember, I said to trust yourself, honey?” my father coaxed. “Practice makes perfect!”
determined, I got back on. And I fell once more — and not for the last time.
Still, my father was right. I finally did learn to ride my bike. He knew I could do it. Through all my spills,
I always heard his message: “Trust yourself. It’s okay to fall. Just get back on and pedal. Practice makes perfect.”
Juanell immediately responded to my story and suggested that it was deeply related to who I am today. I started sharing my bike story with my audiences. They connected with me like never before in my fifteen years as a professional speaker! Many thanked me because my insights gave them the hope that they could find their own “bike stories” to help them move ahead.
Audience members immediately started telling me their most cherished childhood memories of their bikes. I heard vivid tales about long-ago Schwinn Phantoms, Roadmasters, Huffys, and Evan Colsons. Others remembered muscle bikes, Stingrays, ten speeds, mountain bikes, and the rat-a-tat sound of playing cards flapping in the spokes. Banana seats, high-rise handlebars, and fenders were all fondly remembered.
Soon the “bike stories” themselves started rising to the surface. I discovered that many people, like me, gained their first real sense of self-reliance and responsibility while learning to ride a bike.
“Who taught you?” “What lessons did you learn?” and “What about you is the same now as when you were a little girl or boy?” became part of these conversations. The deeply personal impact of each person’s bike-riding lesson was so interesting and enlightening, these stories naturally became a rich and exciting part of this book.
You’ll hear stories from people who share their own “Take the Ride of Your Life” experiences — the dreams, the growing pains, the “Take the Ride of Your Life” triumphs, the many falls, and what made them get up and try again.
The subject of each chapter came from the themes and patterns that emerged in these interviews. At the end of each chapter I have included exercises, which I call Gear-Shifting Action Steps, that helped me when I was on my discovery journey with Juanell. I hope you will be inspired to use them, too.
Do you remember pedaling your bike up a hill? You reached the top and then started down, faster and faster. The wind blew in your face as trees, houses, and cars whizzed by. It was an unforgettable ride.
Come take that “ride” again. This book gives you the tools and inspiration you need to climb the hills, maneuver the twists and turns, and experience the thrill of your own journey — no matter where your ride in life may take you.
I want to hear from you
What is your bike-riding story? Add a comment to my blog on how your father influenced you. You will receive a response from me because I enjoy connecting with my readers! 🙂 I will send my booklet, 19 Surefire Ways to Bring More Joy and Harmony into Your Life to you when you send your story or experience. You are always welcome to send me a private email with concerns that you are experiencing at work or home.
Please share this and any article that speaks to you or your company. Loyal readers like you help us find more people who could benefit from these posts. Help us help them reduce conflict and improve leadership skills and quality of life.
Here’s the link which takes you to my bookstore where you can purchase your own copy of Take the Ride of Your Life! I will send you two books for the price of one. You can share the second copy with a friend or relative. I will be happy to write a personal message on each book: just send me the names to my email. The bookstore sends me your information and I will send the books to you immediately.
This is Joyce Weiss
Corporate Communication Strategist and Career Coach
Until next time, Remember…”You Get What You Tolerate!”
PS Get on your bikes and enjoy the ride! 🙂