The Courage to Fall
Falling can be painful. We take great care not to stumble, but we still fall more often than we’d like. There was a time in my life where I was besieged with thoughts that ranged from “I can’t do it because …I’m black, I’m a woman, I’m short, I’m overweight, I wear glasses, I wear braces, I’ve been through bankruptcy and foreclosure, I’m divorced after 28 years of marriage, etc.” You name a self defeating thought, and I had it. I am a better woman because of these experiences. They taught me that falling is a natural part of learning your way around new terrain.
Did you get that? Falling is a natural part of learning your way around new terrain.
Toddlers fall when they’re learning how to walk. Kids fall when they’re learning how to skate/roller blade/become gymnasts. Falling is nothing more than a temporary loss of balance while we find our feet, so why are we so easily embarrassed by it?
Because we’re still buying into the perfection myth.
Falling doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It doesn’t mean you’re a hack who can’t get it together and might as well give up now before you embarrass yourself further.
Falling does mean you’re brave enough to try something new without waiting to be perfect at it first. It means you have the courage to put yourself out there before you’re “ready.” It means you’re willing to learn as you go and you’re not afraid to make mistakes while you’re at it. Falling means you’ve crossed off something that doesn’t work so you can explore something else that does.
The courage to fall is the courage to release the perfection myth and plunge ahead even when it’s messy, chaotic, and constantly shifting. It’s having the ovaries to start something new and meet yourself where you are without making yourself wrong for your inexperience. Inexperience is temporary, and if you wait ’til you’re perfect before you begin, you’ll be waiting a long, long time. Growth is not perfectly linear−it has squiggles, peaks and valleys, and lots of falls while you adjust to the shifting terrain.
Can you see that falling is to be embraced because it shows you’re growing and living a richer life than if you were standing still?
When you fall, use that information to do better next time. Deconstruct what works and what doesn’t, and do more of what works so you can get closer to where you want to go. Instead of taking potshots at yourself and your abilities for your falls, accept them as necessary while you figure out what you’re doing and the best way(s) to do it.
Even if you’re a business virtuoso, chances are you’ll still stumble now and then when you take risks to advance to the next level. Risk is necessary for expansion and true growth, so being risk-averse is not in your favor. You want to be careful, yes, but you also want to challenge yourself to keep growing and evolving so you don’t stay stuck in one place for too long. Hear me when I say that there’s no joy in stagnating because you’re afraid to risk a fall or 2.
That said, it’s important to note that I’m talking about smart risks, not desperate gambles to get something for nothing or fast track your profits and growth without building a solid foundation first. Be sure you take each risk for the right reasons, not because you’re trying to catch up with your competition or act on the misguided notion that you’re not where you’re supposed to be yet. While risk taking should stretch you, it shouldn’t feel so big that it overwhelms or paralyzes you. Give yourself the time and space to take leaps that feel good to you and nourish your business, not ill-advised, unprepared cliff dives that damage your business and set you back in your profits, growth, and client relationships.
Prepping for each leap and risk shows you that mastery comes from consistent action, not wishful thinking and unrealistic expectations. Releasing the perfection myth means you stop buying into the insidious belief that you should know how to master a new skill without breaking a sweat or getting a hair out of place. You need a bucketload of practice before you get anywhere remotely close to mastery, so don’t sell yourself short and expect to sail over the learning curve with zero effort. Learning something new or exploring a fresh take on something can feel joyful and easy, but you still have to put in the time and energy to feel anything at all.
Meeting yourself where you are frees you from the need to get it right the first time and lets you play with different approaches so you can find the best fit for you and your business. Knowing that mistakes are inevitable, you stop tearing yourself down for each on