Habits and the brain

Roland reminded me about this video. A guy gets a bike where the normal steering is reversed so if you turn the handlebars left, the front wheel goes right.

It’s almost impossible for anyone to ride the bike at all. It takes our hero many weeks of persistent practice to get past first base. (His young son, with a more plastic brain, gets there a bit quicker).

It’s hilarious and fascinating. In our little book, Viv and I say that many of life challenges can’t be solved by reading a book, they are more like riding a bike. This video helps point out the rich complexity of that kind of learning.

So much advice for life’s challenges would be great if they were as simple as they seem. Shelf loads of management books explain how we can be excellent, agile, innovative, whatever. Yet this can be much like explaining to people just to reverse their steering on a backwards bike. Great theory that helps very little in practice.

And this is just to change how one human being and one physical object relate, never mind getting teams of people working together well. We should be wary of letting our explanations overrideĀ the value of experience, persistence through undignified failure, and sometimes letting go of working it out in our heads.

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