I wish you could have seen his face the moment he opened the gift. Shock filled his eyes and every ounce of his heart leapt out though his jaw. His little boy dream took a giant step toward realization in this one Christmas gift. You see, he dreams of playing ice hockey and under the tree this year were ice skates. The elation in his eyes was beyond words. But in that exact same moment came all of the “what if’s” and in a single heart beat he was wadded up with tears and fears in my lap.
“Mom, what if I fall?” He wailed.
Dream chasing is scary business. Your soul was shaped for this very thing and the thought of failing is devastating. What if you fail? Then what?
I watched him lace up his brand new skates and zip up his coat. With the sturdy hand of his father he tenderly put one foot on the ice. And then the other. One by one he made his way over to the wall where he traded Dad’s hand for the safe edge of progress. I could see it still, the trepidation of what if.
Class began and in the steady voice of the instructor my son turned his eyes toward center ice. With a few words of welcome and a few introductions the teacher encouraged the kids to slowly waddle away from the wall. “Just a couple of steps, you’ll be ok, I’m right here”. So inch by tiny inch the mob moved ever so slowly towards the teacher. Suddenly, the instructor’s voice grew excited and with a big smile he said “Ok, now… FALL DOWN!!”
There it was, the first “what if”.
Before any technique in how to skate. Before any fundamental stretching or maneuvers. Before any accolades or achievements. Before ANYTHING — he learned to fall.
There’s a technique to falling and it’s vital to your success.
It didn’t matter if you were on your butt or your face, you fell. But as quickly as you fell, you learned to get back up – at least in this ice skating class. And there is a technique to it — simple, but necessary none-the-less.
Know Failing is going to happen.
Falling is part of the deal. Failing is going to happen. No one gets it perfect the first time. No one. Knowing it’s coming is half the battle and lessens the shock and subsequent stall-out when it does.
I could give you all the clichés: we learn by making mistakes, it’s all part of the process. Yada Yada. You know that now. You watch others fall and don’t think twice. But when you step out in the pursuit of your dream, wearing your very own skates for the first time, the reality of how hard it is sets in and the taste of how bad you want it is fresh in your mouth. Know this: you are going to fall down, you are going to fail. It is inevitable. Just own it – its a place to learn, not a place to die.
Now that you know
Now that you know it’s going to happen, you must be prepared to get right back up. Falling is part of the chase. It doesn’t matter that you fail but it does matter what you do with it. Did you know Thomas Edison tried over 1,000 different times to get the light bulb to work. One THOUSAND. I don’t know about you — I probably would have stopped counting around 123. He didn’t stop when it failed the 862nd time. He didn’t quit at the 999th time either. He kept trying again and again until it worked.
The key to failing is getting back up. No matter how bad it hurts or how horribly you failed. Not even if your whole factory goes up in flames and you loose EVERYTHING, get up and keep going. (Mr. Edison lost countless hours of research and prototypes, he lost equipment and his workshop to a fire in 1914. He lost the equivalent of over 2 Million dollars in assets- and then turned around and released the phonograph).
Within just a handful of minutes my son had the technique to get up off the ground and back onto the task at hand — chasing his dream. I am sure there will be some even harder falls, ones that possibly leave scars.
But now he knows how to get back up.
You only officially fail when you stop trying again.