Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

My daughter, who will turn seven in June, just learned to ride her bike without training wheels last week.

Many of her friends mastered this trick long ago, but she’s been hesitant and we haven’t found it necessary to push the issue, figuring she’d learn when she was ready. Last summer we gave it a bit of a go, but after a few falls she lost her interest in trying—the fear of another fall outweighed any possible benefit to riding on two wheels.

Yet in the last few weeks she’s had a re-ignited interest. We’ve practiced in the grass in our lawn to make the falls softer; we’ve run with her on the sidewalks; we’ve watched her fall and give up, and then change her mind and try again. We’ve watched her toes get shredded and her knees get bruised. We’ve watched her get frustrated and shout at the bike. She’s had about half a dozen of her friends on their bikes at the playground, “helping” her by shouting directions at her as she’s tried to push off, as she’s tried to find—and keep—her balance.

And a few days ago, something just clicked.

She was with my mom at the playground afterschool. My mom sent me a message asking me to text her when I was finished work and heading out to the playground. So I did, and as I walked down the driveway and started toward the playground, I could see Marlowe riding toward me, completely on her own, completely confident, as if she’d ridden her bike for years. (This moment totally choked me up—there was such confidence and power and beauty in it… and you can hear her friends in the background shouting: “Go, Marlowe, Go!”)

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Since then, she’s simply flown.

She rides to the bus stop in the morning (exactly one driveway away). She wants to get on her bike as soon as she’s home from school. She wants to ride after dinner. She wants to ride and ride and ride. And in the practice of mastering the ride, she’s also mastered the fall. When she senses herself losing balance, she hops off that bike like a ninja. When she does crash with the bike, she just laughs and gets back on. She smiles the whole time. Falling no longer matters, because she knows she has the power to fly.

How can you fly today?  


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.