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Are You Crazy? Were You Trying To Kill Me?

August 30, 2013

(Picture Credit: ridermagazine.com)

I admit it, I was going too fast. Even though it was just a 125cc Kawasaki, I was pushing it too hard.

I was coming out of the one of the box canyons that are so common along the Wasatch Front here in Utah. I came up over a rise and was staring at the cutaway side of the hill just a few dozen yards ahead. The road that I expected to see stretching out in front of me for another half mile or so took a sharp turn to the left.

I slammed on the brakes and the bike started to skid on the wet pavement. I had two choices, neither one was good. I could keep the bike upright and slam into the 10 foot tall wall of dirt, or I could lay it down and take my chances with the pavement.

Yeah, I was going too fast.

Today, I want to talk about giving someone too much responsibility too soon.

I love motorcycles. I owned a bike when my wife and I started dating. I loved that bike. When my wife became pregnant with our first child I sold it. The risk was just too great. I didn’t have the type of insurance that would care for my family if something were to happen to me.

The youngest of my 13 kids is 10 years old. Once he’s out of the house, I’ll look at possibly buying another one. It’s a decision my wife and I made together.

We’d save a lot of money if I bought a motorcycle and commuted on that in the summer.

I think it’s too dangerous. How would I raise the kids if you got into an accident?

Well, I’ve got tons of life insurance. You’d be fine!

What if you didn’t die?

She was smiling when she said it.

I’ve ridden bikes since I was a kid. My half-brother’s dad got us started on minibikes.

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(Picture Credit: Tom Browning via jleibovitch.tripod.com)

A few years ago, my brother was telling me about a conversation he had with his dad about kids and motorcycles.

My son had just turned five. I realized he was now the same age I was when my dad bought me my first minibike. I looked at my little boy and then I called my dad and asked, “WERE YOU CRAZY? Were you trying to kill me?”

I can’t imagine putting my kids on a motorized two wheeled bike when they were five. In hindsight, it’s too much responsibility too soon.

But, I’ve worked for companies where that was the approach. In my first full-time position at WordPerfect I was supporting WordPerfect Office. I’d just spent two weeks of training learning the word processor. Now I was being asked to take calls on the email program, a program I’d never seen before. I got about five minutes of instruction and then the team lead pointed me at the phones. It was a little rough those first few weeks.

I love working with new employees. By that I mean engineers or developers who are right out of college, or even interns. I think of some of the lessons I wish someone had taught me early in my career. I try to share those. I try to make sure new employees get started on the right foot and get started correctly in their new jobs.

It’s a fine line. Don’t give them enough challenging tasks and you risk them getting bored and disillusioned. give them too much and you might overwhelm them. It’s best to start them on a discrete task that has a limited scope. You want to find something they can accomplish in the first month or so to help build their confidence. It should be challenging enough that they have to stretch, but limited enough that they can accomplish it with a minimal amount of assistance. And of course, you need to give them the proper tools and training.

Not like my first day with WordPerfect Office. I had to put my customers on hold for every single question, no matter how trivial. At times I felt completely overwhelmed. The customers knew more, much more about the product than I did.

Fortunately, I didn’t have a job where I could run into a tree, or over a cliff, or slam into a hillside.

I decided to lay the bike down and leaned to the left and literally pulled the bike over on top of me. I still had both brakes on as much as I could and was still going way too fast. The bike came down on my left leg and the rest of my body came along for the ride. Like the end of a whip, my head was the last thing to hit the pavement. Many times I’ve thanked God that I always wear a helmet. Still it rang my bell pretty good and I saw stars.

I hit hard enough that I immediately bounced up and ended up going back over the top of the bike. The gravel bit into my leather gloves as I landed and I started to roll. I came to rest not too far from my bike and about 5 feet from the dirt wall. The elbows of my leather jacket were scuffed. A back pocket had been ripped off my Levi’s. My high top basketball shoes weren’t enough to prevent a severe sprain on my right ankle. But, I was in one piece. I picked up the bike and aside from some scuffs on the paint and the pedals, the rear turn signal was the only thing broken. Very, very lucky.

I still love motorcycles, but they are dangerous. Training, proper equipment, and experience help mitigate the risks . . .just like in business.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, blogger and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or contact him at (rbliss at msn dot com)

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