Can we all just “power through” change, once we know the facts?

As business people, healthcare providers, teachers, parents, and leaders of any kind, we often lay out the facts for others – with what we think is the greatest care and clarity – but then things tend to fall apart rather than improve.

What’s going on with knowledge?

We’ll explore that in today’s EWC article, and come out feeling better about change.

First, take a look at this amazing video called the Backwards Brain Bicycle by Destin Sandlin from his fabulous website Smarter Every Day. Then, I’ll share more of what we know and understand about change…

So knowledge is not the same as understanding… not by a long run!

I guess I knew that, but didn’t understand it (sorry… I couldn’t resist.)

Knowledge then, is the accumulate facts you and I have stored away our noggins: too many to truly understand, and most very, very superficial. It’s like how we boil an egg and know the outcome, but we don’t actually understand how heat affects the proteins in the egg to make things congeal.

People can give us all the facts they think we need to embrace a major change in thinking, and yet we disappoint.

Therefore, understanding must be what our experiences tell us from a far deeper level. And just because someone gives us numerous new facts to support their case for change, if our experiences are in conflict with the new facts, we are not going to be able to immediately evolve. It might take a concerted effort to get to understanding; exactly what today’s video-share demonstrates!

The Positive has to be achieved through the labor, patience and suffering of the negative. – Grace Boggs

Image: Destin Sandlin: Bike wrecking

Source: “Backwards Brain Bicycle” (Screenshot)

So when a teacher, boss, doctor, client or parent doles out facts arrived at through their personal experience and expects others to immediately act accordingly, it is almost certainly a recipe for disappointment on both sides.

But here’s the rub: any big leap forward usually forces us to rely on new facts that may be in conflict with our past experiences, and that forces us out on our growing edges. There’s just no way around it.

If we want to grow, we will surely have to find a helmet and prepare for some skinned knees.

Destin Sandlin’s 8-month odyssey to change the way his brain dealt with a new paradigm (the backward bicycle) seems metaphorical to me in many ways. He had to be willing to repeatedly crash and begin again with a level of commitment that is becoming rare.

Making the most of opportunity then, is the acceptance of risk and willingness to power through the darkness, until understanding evolves into a completely new way of thinking.

Hmmm.. here’s a quote I love:

“Progress does not take place like a shot out of a pistol; it takes the labor and suffering of the negative. How to use the negative as a way to advance the positive is our challenge.”
– Hagel (paraphrased by Grace Boggs)

After a couple decades in my field – I’m a dentist in Vermont –  I think back about occasions when progress and possibility have worked well, and contrast that with the episodes that looked much like we were riding backward bicycles. It all makes perfect sense now. What about your workplace or family life? Is it a bit wobbly from time to time?

Thanks so much to Destin Sandlin and his youtube channel Smarter Every Day. Hop over there if you have some time and you will not believe the insight and wonder his work can bring to your day. In fact, he does such great work that we have to share some details with you on supporting him:

It seems that Destin Sandlin makes these videos in some sense, just to make the world a better place.

If you’d like to support him, it might go a long way to keep Destin at it for a while. Support Destin on Patreon!

Oh! That book he mentioned, written by the astronaut:
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth is by Commander Hatfield.  (I totally agree with Destin Sandlin: the book is extraordinary!)

Well, it’s Sunday morning here as I write, and I have to take this new insight into my day. We are cleaning the garage today with our three teenagers. I wonder how I can use this? Here’s a sketch I made years ago to illustrate how projects go when not everyone is completely on board:

Image: Leadership at work diagram

I’ll try to start by remembering that there’s actually some biological hard-wiring that we have to deal with before leader and follower can walk together. This is so good to know. Brilliant in fact!

It can all be explained by The Backwards Brain Bicycle!

Stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda

Thanks to EWC Guest Writer Neal Smith of St. Albans Vermont for sharing this link with us!

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  1. Sandlin, Destin. “The Backwards Brain Bicycle.” Smarter Every Day. YouTube, 24 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Aug. 2015. <>.

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world. Hear her latest conversations with thought leaders on the Conspiracy of Goodness Podcast--new episodes every Wednesday!