Blog & Opinion
5 April 2019 • Karel van der Lelij
You discover yourself with someone else
Although it can still be cold and bleak outside, I got back on my bike early this year so I will be ready for some great mountain rides this summer. This year, for the first time, I sometimes ride with my son and that has resulted in some surprising new insights.
The first time (when my 13-year-old son broke his first record and breathlessly followed me for 50 km) immediately yielded one of these unique insights. I was constantly checking on him out of the corner of my eyes and asked him over and over again if I wasn’t going too fast for him. Despite the strong headwind, I could feel during the ride that I would return home well rested. Normally I would push myself a lot harder and I would’ve cycled breathlessly by myself. It turned out that I looked better after my son than after myself. Of course this wasn’t a new discovery. My colleagues and students may recognise this behaviour in me as well. I often hear that they appreciate that, but is that behaviour doing me any good? While riding my bike I decided I wanted to change this.
From abstract to concrete
As a lecturer I can see on someone’s face that something like that sounds rather vague and abstract: everything has to change. So I try to teach my students that a concrete plan is much more effective. I ask them to transform the steps of dreaming, daring and doing into something concrete and make sure they don’t bite off more than they can chew. Back home I decided to follow my own advice. My grand resolution that everything had to change could be more concrete. What did I have to change to take care of myself the way I take care of my son? When I analysed myself I realised that when I ride my bike I am more focused on my mind than on my body: I end up ignoring my body’s warning signs. But how do you change that? I decided to become more aware of every pedal turn on the first half of my daily ride to work.
The first morning was a total failure, but the following days I am allowed – something I learned from Marli Huier in her book Ritme (Rhythm) – to start over every time. I don’t have to get it right the first time. Each morning I am able to get a little bit more into the rhythm of my body. And it’s unbelievable: since I began doing this, I no longer arrive completely exhausted, even after a long ride. Instead, I get home sharp and fulfilled. Change begins with small steps, but this will make a difference: for myself, for my son and for my environment.
P.S. On Blackboard I developed some resources to help students think about how they can contribute to a collaboration within a project team and translate something abstract into concrete. If you are interested in these study resources, I can give you access to the module. Maybe you can use it in your own education programmes or we can further develop it together?
Karel J. van der Lelij #hiker and #cyclist; #man and #father; Senior Lecturer IT; #experience in #IT, #HR and #education; recruits #professional practice; loves his #students; above average interest in #philosophy and #literature; #Christian