The Systems

My dad taught me to ride a bike. We spent hours in the mall parking lot a block away from where we lived. At one point, I thought I’d never get it. The balance was so wonky and it felt impossible to build up the speed necessary to keep moving.

Eventually, I figured it out. My dad was there, coaching me through the mechanics, encouraging me to keep trying.

Ten years later, I tried to learn how to drive a stick shift. I was in college and my dad wasn’t around to teach me. I went out in the middle of the night to try to work on the clutch. I stalled and stalled. At one point, I thought I would never get it. I’d be the one moron who just can’t figure out the clutch, the right weight to put in the right place (at the right time).

Today, I can ride a bike and drive a clutch on command. None of the uncertainty is there anymore. I’ve done it so much, I do it without even thinking. I do it habitually. Both of those activities have become a pattern. A pattern that took me a long time to learn. But a pattern nonetheless.

Today, there are things I am trying to learn. I am trying to be bold. I am trying to be less defensive. I am trying to love better.

And there are moments when I think it is impossible. I can’t seem to find the balance between passion and anger, between influence and control. I wonder if I’ll ever get the weight of my responsibility just right.

It takes a lot of deliberate thinking to change. A lot of failure. A lot of perseverance. A lot of slow progress and missed opportunities.

But in the end, change is possible. With enough discipline and enough practice, I will learn the balance. I will become accustomed to the weight.

My bike riding and car driving have become System One Thinking. After years and years of reinforcement, they have become woven into the fabric of my daily activity.

If I want to grow in spiritual areas, I must take the same approach as I did with riding a bike. I have to try it and try it and keep trying it until it becomes something that is a part of me.

We are renewing our minds every single day. Either we are reinforcing what has long been established or we are taking steps to become different, better. As we become more aware of the process, we can be more intentional about using it for our good.

My dad is one of the greatest leaders in my life. As he taught me to ride my bike, he wasn’t just teaching me travel mechanics. He was teaching me how to learn. He was guiding me through perseverance, deliberate learning, and the painful journey of strengthening my capacity.

As I continue the life-long process of growth, it is easy to forget how good I am at learning. I learn all the time. My dad helped teach me how to learn. And it certainly isn’t over…

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