Traveling Through Life on Flat Tires


“Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life”

Peter M. Senge

I grew up in a family where learning was rewarded.

Participating in an activity where you were learning meant my parents would provide transportation, financial support, and personal mentoring.  If they couldn’t personally teach us, they found friends who could coach us up.

If we wanted fancier clothes than they would buy, we had to get a job.  If we wanted to learn a new subject, instrument, or sport, no job was needed.  They would foot the bill.

We weren’t rich, they simply rewarded learning.  They didn’t want anything to get in the way of learning.

On occasions where my siblings or I would get into trouble, punishment could be avoided, if we made a convincing case a valuable lesson had been learned (we were rarely successful).

We weren’t the Cunningham’s of Happy Days, nor were we the Huxtable’s of the Cosby Show.  We weren’t any of the modern families of Modern Family.  We were merely a family that valued learning.

Today I learned something about learning I had not understood.

I learned about the process.

Prior to today the word ‘process’ had largely been a boring term for me.  The only inspirational use of the term in my experience had been by Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

After listening to a friend talk, I finally understood what the process was all about, and how truly inspirational the term should become for all of us.

My friend convinced me that success should be defined as enjoying or valuing the process.

This means enjoying the lessons life teaches us.  Defining success not as victory, but as completing the process.

When we live this way failure becomes transformative rather than fatal.


Because what we learn from the process of living life, through all its ups and downs, prepares us for our destiny.

The process makes us who we need to be, so we can do what we were meant to do.

I bought it all, hook, line, and sinker.

Then I read an article titled, “Five Tips To Blow Up Your Old Expectations And Move Forward“.   This article, which I discovered on Twitter made a profound statement.

‘Sometimes we need to let the air out of our tires’.  Not lower expectations, but in my words, recognize and change the paradigm of our lives.   Here is how the author explained it.

“At the end of Working Girl, (an ’80′s iconic movie that you have got to see just for the hair!), a titan of industry tells a story to his board of directors that goes something like this:

One day in the Lincoln Tunnel, traffic came to a stop. A huge 18-wheel truck exceeded the clearance of the tunnel and got stuck.  It couldn’t move forward or backward. The emergency crew were at a loss, scratching their heads as tempers began to fray all around them. Finally a little boy from a car waiting patiently behind the rig piped up: “Why don’t you just let air out of the tires?” Which, of course, they promptly did, lowering the truck which allowed it to move forward.

Life generally requires at least a few of those deflating-the-tires moments.”

When I read this article and combined it with the wisdom of my friend it all made sense.

On too many occasions I keep trying to fix what is broken, rather than question the assumptions behind my efforts.

In other words, sometimes we simply need to blow up our expectations, start with a blank slate, and begin anew, building on the fresh insights learned from the process.

Starting over is hard when we can’t claim victory, which is why we so often stay in the middle of a tunnel like the stuck truck.

I like the idea of deflating the tires and moving forward.  Rather than being embarrassed that we are traveling through life on flat tires, we should be excited about moving forward, and getting out of the tunnel.