by Paula on August 8, 2012

Over the last few days with a little practice each day, my husband and I have finally got my 7 year old son riding a bike. Consequently he loves it and we’re just finished deciding where to ride today.

Riding a bike

Two years ago when he was in Reception class at his school they had bike-riding lessons and so we naturally assumed that was the time to be teaching him to ride. A lot of his friends were riding well and so followed many excruciating weekends where we’d try to get him to ride his bike, he’d refuse, we’d bribe him, he would try half-heartedly and then one of us would get annoyed and it would all feel horrible. Not long after that we decided it really wasn’t worth the angst and we put the bike in the garage and decided he’d let us know when he’s ready.

Fast forward 2 and a half years to 2012 and following a ride on the back of a tandem while we were on hols, a rush of excitement caused by Bradley Wiggins in the Olympics, and the sudden dawning that this might be fun, he cautiously told us he might like to learn.

One new bike from Trade-It later, 3-4 sessions of 10-15 minutes each and he’s off!

So what’s different? He’s older, yes, but he was perfectly capable of being able to ride before. The one big difference is HE WANTED TO LEARN.

It reminds me of when I left 6th form – the only one of my friends not off to University. I had no particular career in mind & another few years of learning seemed awfully dull when all I wanted to do was work, save money & then head off to Africa with a rucksack on my back. 8 years later however, and loving my Operations role, I took on a post-graduate degree in management and excelled at it because I was ready to, and wanted to, learn.

So how does this relate to your staff and your own learning? I have sat through many an appraisal where I have been asked what training I would like as they need to tick their Investors in People box. I have also been on the other end of that and as an employed manager have had to strongly encourage training in reluctant staff members. The fact is though, that learning something when the end result isn’t something you strongly desire is HARD!

This is because:-

  • Any learning is challenging & the effort & commitment comes from wanting the end result.
  • If you’re learning something you don’t really want to, you may achieve the end result but never use the skill & the learning is wasted.
  • Lots of learning takes place in an environment that is generic & doesn’t relate to your own job, tools, challenges and so it is hard to put it into practice back at the day job.

The best way to learn is to:

  1. Have a strong desire to know what’s being taught.
  2. Learn things that are highly relevant to what you are doing (or want to do).
  3. Make it practical – learn with your tools, on live projects, within your own personal & business limitations.
  4. Have the ongoing opportunity to use the talent you’ve learned to really embed these skills.

Making sure the need is there, and the conditions are right, means the learning will be lasting and enjoyable. And consequently although it’s raining and I am a little saddle sore, when my son woke up and said “Can we ride our bikes today”, my first (and honestly joyous answer!) was “YES LET’S!”


For an alternative approach to Management training for your internally promoted, or struggling, managers see my Management Instruction packages. A way to bring the key skills to your managers through training in the environment they are comfortable (and getting things done at the same time!)


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