“Don’t be scared Khloe. You ice skated when you were four years old, it will come back to you.”
I uttered this to my 8-year-old granddaughter. I was trying to convince her to let go of the bars surrounding the ice skating rink. All she’d done for one full circle was slowly tiptoe and white-knuckle the bars.
I was confident that nothing would happen to Khloe, as she was holding onto the bars for dear life, so my eyes naturally drifted around the rink. A bright yellow fleece jacket caught my eye. It belonged to Jimmy, one of four siblings in the rink. One could assume they’d at least rollerbladed before, but ice skating seemed entirely new to them.
His two older sisters and older brother were being cautious, but not Jimmy. Even his inexperience was not going to stand in his way of having a great time. He must have fallen a dozen times before Khloe made it the full way around and back to where I was standing on the safe side of the ice. Still cautious, she gave me a thumbs up and said, “I’m going around again.”
As Khloe made her way slowly around the ring, I couldn’t help but follow that neon-yellow jacket. Jimmy fell again and again, but I could see he was enjoying himself regardless. With all the practice at falling, it wasn’t long before his falls became graceful – even calculated. He was sliding into the fall – on his stomach once, then on his back the next time. No matter how he ‘fell’ he was laughing through it all.
Unlike most of the people who were being overly cautious in the rink, Jimmy’s goal seemed to be to fall. Where before he’d been barely getting through the ice before falling, he was becoming bolder – picking up speed and falling on purpose. I noticed that every time he fell and got back up, he took a firmer, more confident stance. With every fall he took, his skill increased. Through his “failures” (he didn’t seem to see it that way), he learned what not to do. Within thirty minutes, he was carving around the rink.
Even with my daughter coaxing Khloe to get herself to the middle of the ice, Khloe wouldn’t let go of the bar. I pointed at Jimmy and asked her, “Do you see how much fun that kid is having?”
“Yes,” she replied.
“Do you know why? Because he’s actually trying to fall. He’s enjoying himself because he likes falling. Every time he falls, he just gets back up and keeps skating. I want you to go out there and try to fall.”
Khloe let go of the bar, headed toward the middle of the ice and little by little, started to skate. She may have started slug-slow, but over time she picked up speed.
As she gained her confidence, my daughter kept encouraging her to twirl. Khloe looked at her mother like she was crazy. She was just learning to stay standing. How the hell was she supposed to twirl?
Around and around she went. Ten minutes before her session was over, she was twirling in tighter and tighter circles until we left. She had a blast.
We need to be willing to fail (even if that means falling). Hesitation comes from a fear of falling at whatever we are trying to do. If we’d just learn to ‘go for the fall’ we’ll be a little better every time we get up and recover. It’s necessary to get up after every fall.
When we give ourselves or those in our teams permission to fall, we will be much more daring, innovative and confident to stretch beyond what is comfortable so that we can accomplish what we once thought we couldn’t.