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Can you ride a backwards bike?

We have all heard the saying “it’s as easy as riding a bike”. On Hilton Head we have visitors who do it all the time - this is the one time a year they get back on a bike, and while rusty at first, it comes back.

But what if the handlebars were designed to go in the opposite direction? If you turn left, you actually go right, and vice versa. This is a real thing. Engineer Destin Sandlin partnered with a group of welders to develop a bike that operates opposite of what you expect.

Sounds simple right? In my mind I was thinking that seems no different than steering a car going backward vs. forward. But it took him 8 MONTHS to figure it out! Why? “Riding a bicycle might seem like a fairly easy task, but the mental algorithm associated with riding one is really complicated” says Sandlin.

Now why would you want to consider doing this? For those that are competitive it might be just to prove you can. But you can also gain valuable insights and benefits.

  1. You are disrupting the muscle memory pattern that allowed you to hop on a bike and just go. It forces your brain to think differently and develop MENTAL FLEXIBILITY.

  2. You are UNLEARNING, evolving and learning new skills.

  3. You leverage GRIT and RESILIENCE. To re-train your brain you need to practice every day. Working toward small and deliberate wins despite failed attempts.

  4. You are willing to let yourself be vulnerable and have a good laugh. Sometimes it is important to not take ourselves so seriously and just have fun!

Imagine something you do that is so natural you don’t even think about it – it is like you are on autopilot. It might be as small as your morning routine, the route you take to work, tying shoelaces, or how your desk is organized (you can reach for your stapler without even taking your eyes from your computer screen). A disruption might feel a little uncomfortable causing you to pause a few seconds before you keep moving forward but doesn’t upend your day.

But what if it was something more significant…. Joining a new team or company, taking on a new role you have little to no experience with. And what if it is completely unexpected like a merger/acquisition or another global crisis?

Are you prepared to unlearn and evolve? Or will you let the circumstances override your growth and success?


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