On Falling – In Skiing and In Life

My good friend John is an Olympic class skier. I am strictly a Bunny Sloper. I don’t mind going fast. I don’t mind wearing skis. I like being on mountains. I’m just not terribly good, and I’m okay with that.
When we were in college, we took a weekend and headed to Georgia Bay in Canada. John and my boyfriend at the time and another friend went off to ski the Double Black Diamond (or some other really steep mountain designator).
I stayed on the Bunny Slope and tried to ski. I had just fallen down for the umpteenth time and was cursing my lack of skiing ability when John skied up to me.
“What’s going on?” He approached me with perfect control of  his long skis.
“I’m just sick of falling.” I sat on the snow and tried not to cry in frustration.
“Falling is good,” he pulled up beside me skied around me.
“You are an amazing skier,” I huffed. “You never fall.”
“Not true,” he said. “I fall every time I ski. If you don’t fall when you ski, you’re not skiing hard enough.”
He left me dumbfounded. Those words, uttered with such nonchalance, changed my life. I periodically thank him for saying them just when he did because they impacted me.
If you don’t fall when you ski, you aren’t skiing hard enough.
Think about it for a second. Sure, we can all play it safe. We might stay in the ski lodge with our Hot Buttered Rum and toast by the fire. We might never put on the skis. We might never venture onto even the smallest hill. And then where would we be? We would be right where we started. We would have made zero progress. And where’s the fun in that?
I realize it is frightening. I understand we all have a certain amount of trepidation about being vulnerable, about risk. And I daresay we all fear failure, at least a little.
But, if we are going to try, we must give ourselves the opportunity to fail and fail big. It is better to risk and fail than to stay wrapped in a cocoon of safety. The cocoon is a false security blanket. It will feel safe but eventually it will also smother us.
What I took away from John’s words was simple: Don’t be so afraid of making mistakes. They are how you learn. And often those failures lead to our biggest successes. It might take time, but it happens all the time.
I’d love to hear about some of the times you’ve thought you failed only to pull a diamond out of the ashes. Please drop a line and let me know.
Sending you all of my love.
Z
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