The hands-off approach to influencing personal growth.

22 Feb

I recently tried to teach my daughter to ride a bike the way my dad taught me.

He ran behind me on the street holding on to the bike while I screamed at him not to let go. I kept screaming until I realized he was 50 metres adrift of me and I was truly on my own. That’s when I crashed.

Didn’t work with my daughter either. So I Googled “How to learn to ride a bike without training wheels” and I learned something incredibly valuable.

Don’t hold on in the first place.

Let your kid glide down a gentle slope with the seat as low as possible, feet skimming the ground so she can learn to balance on her terms. Two days later she did this:

That got me thinking about the way you mentor people within your company to grow as professionals.

You really have to let them find out how to balance on their own. While you record it for posterity. And YouTube.



16 Responses to “The hands-off approach to influencing personal growth.”

  1. Renee February 22, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Excellent metaphor.

    I know that I find it personally rewarding to demonstrate to my colleagues and employer how adept I am at taking ownership of my role. Micromanagement makes me very, very nervous.

    You’re a natural mentor, and clearly, a damn good one. Your mentees are fortunate!

    And Lola is blessed to have such a cool dad. Good stuff, all of this.

  2. GV February 22, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    There is only so much hand holding you can do in life when eventually you have to let go off the situation and let the other person experience it, but this brings up another subject along the same line of thinking, there are people in this world that can not let go in family life as well as business and they are called micro-managers. I hope your not a micro-manager (dob).

  3. Don Bull February 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm #


  4. dougbrowncreative February 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    > Thank you Renee. She picked it up far quicker than I did. I can’t tell you who was more excited though.

    > Good to hear from you Don Bull!

    > GV I don’t know what you mean by letting go in family life, but I think the video is some evidence towards proving that I can let go when letting go is what is required.

  5. :]ack February 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    What a sweet moment, and lesson…thanks for sharing :]

  6. dougbrowncreative February 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    Jack if only my dad had had google!

  7. Jody Beck February 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    There’s the official feel good moment of Tuesday. Thanks Doug.

  8. dougbrowncreative February 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    You’ve got all this to look forward to Jody. Save that google link!

  9. Brad February 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    This is awesome Doug, great metaphor.
    If only YouTube existed when I was learning.
    I remember trying to learn on the lawn. I probably fell a lot more on account of the rougher, slower ground, but it was soft. I was learning how to fall off ramps in no time.

  10. dougbrowncreative February 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Well Brad, I figure if Tom Hammarberg can install a toilet using only YouTube, I should be able to teach my daughter to ride a bike using it. Makes sense. Right?

  11. Brad February 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Total sense. YouTube has taught me how to tie a double Windsor knot…multiple times.

  12. dougbrowncreative February 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Try the Pratt knot. That will really blow your mind because you tie it with the backside facing out.

  13. Amy February 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Awesome metaphor for life. And a very sweet story and video.

  14. dougbrowncreative February 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    Amy, she could not stop smiling the whole night and wanted to call all her friends. The next morning she was up at 6:30 ready to go again!

  15. margriet aasman February 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    What simple lessons we can learn from bringing up our children that should apply to how we manage our human resources… of course it goes hand in hand with good parenting skills. I think you are a great dad, Doug. That also makes it possible for you to be a great mentor!

  16. dougbrowncreative February 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    That’s the highest compliment you could pay me Margriet. Thank you. Coming from someone who’s kids followed in her professional footprints, high praise indeed. Parenting and advertising are a lot alike. You have to think like a kid a lot of the time and behave like an adult. 😉

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