Kids and bikes. Every parent can tell stories about this subject. Recently a friend and former BMX champion excitedly told me about the bike he was choosing for his daughter’s third birthday. Detailed explanations were offered about the aerodynamics and styling of the very expensive mode of transportation, none of which I felt would be of any real significance to a three-year-old. Shortly after her birthday I bumped into my friend again and asked about his daughter and her new aerodynamic bike. He looked somewhat shell-shocked. ‘Here’s the thing’, he said. ‘At her party a friend of ours asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she replied, “I wanted panties but all I got was a bicycle”.’
My advice when it comes to parents and gifts for their kids has always been: go cheap and stay cheap for as long as you can! There will be plenty of years ahead when cheap won’t appease the gods and the range of desirables and affordables will be mutually exclusive concepts. Where is the logic in buying an expensive airport toy when hotel soap or an airline snack will do the trick when returning home after a business trip?
I remember an early episode with Tamryn and her bike. She tended to be somewhat kamikaze on the thing and as we live in a house with a driveway that would make Kilimanjaro look flat, I thought it my parental responsibility to educate her about bikes and steep driveways. Wanting to give her an understanding of how this all worked, I instructed her to start at the top of the drive and said that I would position myself at the bottom where I would be sure to stop her. Yes I know, you are beginning to get the picture, but wisdom with hindsight is easy. Even British management guru Charles Handy said that life has to be lived forwards but can only be understood backwards. At the time, though, my plan seemed sound and the timing good especially as the Boss, who no doubt would have exercised her Security Council veto, was out.
Well, come down Tamryn did, demonstrating that wonderful confidence and trust in their parents that children are so apt to display. It really is heartwarming as a parent to be the recipient of such undiluted trust. By the time she reached me I think she was doing around 80 kilometres an hour, her hair streaming behind her, her eyes bright and she was screaming with excitement. I had locked-in my stance and bravely stood my ground. Of course I did my job; I stopped the bike.
It was at this point that I learnt a fundamental law of physics, one which relates to propulsion, and that is: If two loosely connected objects (Tamryn and bike) are in a state of rapid motion and one of the objects (the bike) is brought to a sudden state of inertia, then the other object (Tamryn), will continue in a state of motion for a time and distance dependent on the initial velocity at which it was propelled.
Post-traumatic research led me to believe that the long-term psychological damage would be minimal and memory recall practically non-existent. This has in fact proved to be the case.
Trust is a strange thing. Something that can take so long to develop can be destroyed in a moment. Trust, like authority, has to be earned. It is the glue that keeps relationships and teams together. Basically, trust is a matter of predictability. Trust develops when people are told something will happen, and it does.
In the future relationships will become a critical measure in determining business success – a core issue, and one that is as tangible and as real as the profit and loss statement. The signs that this is so are unmistakable and it will be the leaders with integrity who will know how best to instill, nurture and trade in trust.