What you can Learn from Falling
I have been a runner for 25 years, yet I did something for the first time this summer – I ran a mountain race. The Breckenridge Independence Day 10K Trail Run sounded fun.
By mountain, I mean narrow, rock strewn root infested trails through towering pines, ski slopes and over big rocks. We climbed 2,489 vertical feet, over 3.5 miles… then down countless switchbacks 2.5 miles to the finish.
Each step offered potential disaster, rocks and roots everywhere threatening my ability to stay upright. Keeping balance with each foot placement was a nonstop challenge.
I tripped six times while running up, but kept going, keeping pace with a running partner who led me up the mountain. As we came near to the top, my mind began to focus on the coming reprieve. Soon we would be at the aid station, getting necessary fluids, then finally making our way downhill.
Falling the Right Way
Just before the top, I fell – the prolonged moment of suspension in mid air, followed by a tactical roll: right elbow, shoulder, back, hip, then into a kneeling position. I was ok, and back up onto my feet, upright and running faster, an adrenaline filled tempo. I did not want to lose pace with my new partner.
By falling, I began to appreciate being upright all the more. I was even more attentive to each and every placement of my feet, while running even faster. It’s funny how falling can quicken our tempo and cause us to perform even better.
Falling right is the most important part. If I would have fallen the wrong way, I could have become seriously injured. Even in paying attention to each step, we will still fall… this is a part of life, relationship and leadership. I have heard it said,
When you fall, the most important thing is that you get up and try again.
I believe it is even more important that once we get up, we pay more attention to our tempo, not losing contact with others, and listening to what our experience is teaching us.
What my Experience Taught me
- I could not focus just on the destination, I needed to focus every step of the way.
- When I focused on the top before actually being there, I fell.
- When I focused on each step, though stumbling, I ran.
- When I focused on keeping pace with my running partner, I advanced.
When we look only for opportunities to lead, we miss the more frequent and more common opportunities for meaningful influence. Influence of others through the more common, relational and unsuspecting moments make the more lasting impact. But in doing so, we need to pay attention more… a lot more.
I believe by focusing on being a leader (the destination), many people lose track of being right where they are. On the next step; the small moments of influence, common moments, moments of relationship.
As you Run, ask Yourself these Questions
- Where are you?
- What is your next step?
- Who is with you?
- What is your tempo to living?
I am not advocating that we do not have an objective, end goal, or destination. All I am asking is that we do not lose sight of what and who are immediately around us.
How are you giving of yourself into the commonality of each step?