By April 16, 2010 16 Comments Read More →

What Would You Do If You Were Me?

What Would You Do If You Were Me

When I was a kid, I had a bike that I thought I could ride pretty well.  After all, it was my bike and I rode it every day.  I knew its quirks, I knew its strengths, I knew its weaknesses.  Or so I thought.  One day, a friend asked to try my bike.

He hopped on my bike and then paused as if sizing it up.  Then, with confidence and grace, he rolled slowly forward and balanced on the front wheel.  He then  started to hop on the front wheel several times, before spinning 180 degrees.  He then went backwards on my bike and lifted up the front wheel.  He then proceeded to hop up and down on the back wheel.  He then spun my bike in the air 360 degrees, as if he was one with my bike.

He peddled away fast, then turned around with amazing speed … and he hit a jump.  As he glided through the air on my bike, higher than I ever saw my bike go, he glanced at me, with a knowing look.  He rode my bike up to me with blinding speed, slammed on the brakes, and slid the back tire in a wide circle to a fiery, screaming halt.  When the dust cloud cleared, he had my bike up on it’s back tire.  He gave the handle-bars a quick spin, the sun glistened off my spokes, then he snatched handle-bars to a perfect halt, much the way a drummer might catch their twirling drumstick.

As I scooped my jaw up off the ground, and took the handlebars of my bike, I was silent.  I looked at my bike through new eyes that day.  I had never known what was possible.

That was long ago, but it’s always a reminder to me.  I always wonder whether somebody else would drive me better than I can.  I’ve got the “owner’s manual”, but maybe not the best “driver’s guide.”  As a practice, I periodically ask people I trust …

“What would you do if you were me?…”

I listen with an open mind, as they tell me what they might do if they had my skills, my experience, my capabilities, and my situation.  Sometimes it re-affirms I’m making the most of what I’ve got.  other times, it opens my eyes to possibilities I never imagined.

Photo by Adam Baker.

16 Comments on "What Would You Do If You Were Me?"

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  1. JB King says:

    I suppose part of the challenge here is to see who are the people you would trust enough to ask this question, right? I can see some people in my life that in sharing a problem I have they can give me ideas that I may not have thought up, but sometimes there can also be the support behind something that can also be quite nice too.

    A flip side to this is to know that each of us has an identity and that we should remember to own our own lives. We live our lives not someone else and while someone else may give a useful suggestion, I’m pretty sure this isn’t recommending a co-dependent relationship, right? Those are the two points that come to mind as there have been times where I’ve had my mind blown by people who then help me to get to the awesomeness that I thought would be so hard to have but really wasn’t once I knew the path to get there.

  2. Hi J.D., love your writing on this piece!

    While it’s tempting to aspire to ride a bike (figuratively, of course)the way someone else does who appears to have mastered it, I always think it’s pretty darn amazing to live life the way we want; the way we’re compelled to. Within each of us is a unique set of capabilities, persuasions and passions and no one else can manifest those to create the magnificent blend resulting from living authentically.

  3. Funny story JD. A good reminder that every person knows something we don’t, and asking for some feedback is a good way to grow. Assuming it’s from the right person. I bet you also had a friend who would fall as soon as he would get on the bike :)

  4. Alik Levin says:

    What a great story wonderfully told that got me glued to the screen.
    ;)

  5. Rob Boucher Jr says:

    Does bring up the issue of trust for me. Reflecting here..

    This person could have also taken the bike and broken it. With your own identity, this can be even more an issue since you can’t buy a new one. Just looking at Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys can show the effect of picking the wrong person to help and giving up too much control.

    This underlies the importance of having a good mentor, but also asking yourself what level of control is appropriate based on your trust level and consequences.

    But obviously being fear-based does not help either. Have caution vs fear.

    Cases where you can watch someone else and what they do with the same resources you have are great to learn from (like this case). You can learn from others successes or train-wrecks. Taking advice and considering it is not really risky, though our egos often think it is.

    Making changes based on that advice can be more risky, but having a good internal process helps with this. I think an internal process is best when you are willing to try new things, while still having some caution to understand the possible consequences of a change. At a deep level, there is some inner wisdom that knows if a change is positive or has the potential of being positive for us. It takes some time to find that voice and listen to it above the level of the emotional drama that happens with any human being.

    In short – Change – just keep your eyes open too and be aware at a level above the fear.

    If this guy had broken my bike, it probably would have been worth it to see what’s possible. I do this all the time with learning instruments. Who would have though you could play two saxaphones at a time?

  6. Loved this post. Being an intuitive person which I know you are, I am sure you can filter through the advice that is really valuable and applicable and the ones that you should ignore.

  7. farouk says:

    i like the style of this post and you perfectly choose the analogy :)
    i think it will be of benefit to think that way about your skills, just as you said, i can open our eyes to new possibilities
    thanks J.D, keep up the good work :)

  8. Wow, what a great example of realizing that at times we remain limited in our outlook simply because we don’t know what else is possible. I agree with the previous comments reflecting on choosing wisely and intuitively on who to look to for those boundary-stretching choices.

  9. The thought that came to my mind as I was reading was, “Teach me!”

    Your question, “What would you do if you were me?…”, is a more mature version of the child-like enthusiasm your story moved me to exclaim.

    You painted a great picture, J.D., thanks.

  10. Lance says:

    JD,
    I love the story you’ve shared about your bike, and relating that to today. Great analogy. And – that question – a very good one. As I think about it, I keep thinking – would I like what other people might say??? Or would it be really eye-opening (and challenging). In any rate, it really is such a great question…

  11. One of your best posts ever!!

    Reminds me of the time someone came to our house, picked up my old guitar — that only had 5 strings on it at the time — yet he played it better than I ever had at that point 9and probably have to date.)

    It’s amazing the levels of consciousness to tap into we don’t even realize are there.

    Great post!
    xo

  12. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. you’re right most of the time we never ask .. what do you think, or ask for others’ opinions on an issue. It’s tricky – sometimes it’s better to hold fire and sort the challenge out in our own minds, or if we ask we get a negative reply .. or a ‘poo-poo’ reply it won’t work, silly thought etc – that’s pretty depressing … but if it’s people you trust, or asking guidance about an idea – doing some research .. then it is definitely a good thing. The world goes round with all our ideas and there’s always another angle somewhere … Hilary

    PS I did take on board your offer! Sometime …

  13. JD says:

    @ JB — I think the simplest metaphor is to think of it as a team of people in your corner. You can always do what you want, but it’s nice to get input from people with a different perspective, and reduce your blind sides, and open doors to possibilities. Life’s a chess board, but we aren’t always in the best position to see our next best move.

    @ Belinda — I like being the captain of my ship and I’m always willing to learn how to sail my ship better when others will show me how.

    @ Eduard — That’s the key, getting the right feedback from the right people and testing it out.

    @ Alik — Thank you. This is one of those cases where the story seemed to be the right medium, without getting in the way.

    @ Rob — I like your point about even if he broke the bike it’s still worth finding the lesson and looking for what’s possible. I think there’s a knack for learning all that you can, from all who you can and it gets easier with practice. I think it’s also about always looking at feedback as input.

    @ Lana — That’s right … the art of the effective filter ;)

    @ farouk — Thank you. One of my mentors told me it’s important to periodically surprise people :)

    @ Liz — It’s like adding to a buffet of possibilities and choosing whatever floats your boat :)

    @ Jimmy — Heck, I’m with you … “Teach me!”

    @ Lance — Thank you. I think what helps is casting a wide net and asking multiple people as a sounding board. It becomes a trusted board of advisors. Maybe that’s the best metaphor.

    @ Jannie — Thank you. It was Friday so I figured I might up the edutainment factor ;) It’s funny how an old guitar can play so well. I remember as a kid I ran fast whether I had the right sneakers or not, and yet, now I find myself analyzing sneaker options that probably don’t really matter.

    @ Hilary — Good points. I think part of the art of getting the right feedback, is asking the right questions, and asking the right people. During my day job, I synthesize a lot of ideas and feedback, so I’ve learned to put feedback on context … the source, the perspective, carry the useful forward … etc.

  14. Hi JD,

    I know I am late to this post so apologies for the delay.

    First of all, this was an awesome post. I loved the symbolism and what you learned from the experience.

    What I have come to notice and believe is that in order to really benefit from the wisdom of others, we have to recognize that the fact that there will always be more things to learn. An open minded person is more easily inclined to learning how they can be better. Insecure people and those who think they know it all, are not going to go far. Open mindedness is vital is making the most out of life.

    Equally important is the fact that you have to ask the right people. Some people take pleasure in bringing others down so I always avoid such people. Plus, to be blunt, those types of people usually are not that successful because successful people usually are happy and willing to share their wisdom.

    Hope all is well, my friend!

  15. JD says:

    @ Nadia — The door is always open ;) Thank you. You put it so well, it is the open mindedness that helps us make the most out of life. As one of my friends put it, “I die when I stop learning.” There definitely is a skill + art + luck for getting the right people in our corner. I really value the people that bring out my best.

  16. Arvin - Analyst / Developer says:

    Hi

    I agree with the comments above: open-mindedness, learning, asking the right questions to the right people and taking what matters in a given context.

    But I also think it’s equally important to ask:
    What would I do if I were You?

    I personally find it very satisfying to learn through sharing. It may be a simple lecture, a demo, assistance and so on.

    I’d very much love to ride your bike if you asked me to, first to teach you what more you can do with it, and secondly for myself to learn new tricks if I can!
    I leave it to you to take what you find to be useful from the experience, but I think both can get away from it with new Insights.

    I dearly think teaching is a great way of learning.
    Of course, as exposed in previous comments, it has to involve the right people, in the right context.

    So yes… Teach me! And let’s teach each other, and learn from each other, and be Sources of Insight for each other!

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