Falling Down

Dec 6, 2007

This was a thought inspired by Vera’s comment in my post on snowboarding. She said “[falling is] incredibly humiliating. 🙂 But falling down doesn’t really hurt me I guess.” I think it was a great comment.

To continue with the same analogy, in snowboarding, falling down doesn’t really hurt. It’s humiliating at times. But it doesn’t really hurt. That’s the case sometimes in life as well. Falling can be humiliating. Failing can embarrass you. But sometimes, it doesn’t really hurt. And you should just get up and move on.

Of course, that’s not always the case. Take the example of skateboarding (chosen mainly because of the relation to snowboarding). When you skateboard, you aren’t on snow. You’re on wood or concrete. Falling on concrete or wood hurts. That’s why you learn how to fall when you learn skateboarding. It minimizes injuries.

Two tips on how to fall (from the National Safety Council):

  • If you fall, try to roll rather than absorb the force with your arms.
  • Even though it may be difficult during a fall, try to relax your body, rather than go stiff.

The best way to fall is to go with it. And the same applies in whatever you do. You are going to fail sometimes. And if you try to force the issue, if you insist that you didn’t make a mistake and steadfastly try to continue what you’re doing, it’ll hurt you more in the long run. The best thing to do about it is to just relax, and let it happen. Then get up, and move on.

How do you react when you fall?

Snowboarding and Discomfort

Dec 5, 2007

I’ve personally gone snowboarding a couple of times, and I’m decent at it (especially considering I don’t get too much practice being in Singapore). I’m not good by any means, but I get by, and don’t fall. And what I’m writing here is based on what my experience learning snowboarding.

2 points. One about apparent risk, and one about vision (and my personal failure).

Firstly, risk. Or rather, apparent risk. In snowboarding, if you want to turn, you lean in the direction you want to go. It’s not always the most comfortable position. It’s slightly off center; off balance, if you will. But it’s the only way for you to direct yourself, instead of being dictated by the environment, controlled by the curve of the slope. It might seem risky (you’re off balance, leaning to one side, seemingly more likely to fall), but in the larger picture, it’s the only way to be sure of where you’re going.

In life, sometimes you have to do what seems risky. You have to go off-kilter a bit. You need to know where you want to go, and lean in that direction. It might seem risky, it might bring you off balance for a while. But in the end that’s the best bet you have if you want to control your own path.

My second point is more about my personal failure in snowboarding, the biggest thing I myself have trouble with. I never manage to board toe side (with my back facing downhill). I always struggled with being unable to see where I was going. I knew where I was going. I could see the slope before I got on the board, and I’m pretty sure the slope didn’t change. But just the inability to see where I’m headed as I’m moving made me nervous. And that has held me back (until now) from going to the next level in my snowboarding. It’s something that I need to get over.

Again, this lesson can be applied to life as well. I personally have to learn this lesson as well. Sometimes, it’s hard to take a step without being able to see where you’re going. Even if you’ve seen the path before hand. But sometimes, if you don’t take that ‘blind’ step, you won’t be able to progress to the next level.

Both these lessons have a common thread, though. Doing something that might not be comfortable. Because, as Curt Rosengren, the M.A.P Maker, told us, being too comfortable can be bad.

I’ll leave you with the same two questions as Curt, because I don’t think I could phrase them any better.

How are you exploring your Discomfort Zone right now? How could you?

Photo taken by Jasmic

Michael Jordan

Nov 13, 2007

Michael Jordan is well known as arguably the best basketball player of all time. But something I just found out today, apparently he had an 18 month stint as a baseball player, in the Minor League with the Birmingham Barons.

SneakerFiles tells us that “[i]n his time spent as an outfielder, MJ had a .202 batting average in 127 games, 114 strikeouts in 436 at bats, 3 home runs, 51 RBI’s, 30 stolen bases, and led the Southern League outfielders with only 11 errors.” That’s not a bad set of statistics. But it’s nowhere near the top players. And the top was where he was with basketball.

I can’t read minds, so I can’t say for sure, but maybe that’s why he went back to basketball. Yes, he’s decent at baseball, but he would not have made a name for himself doing that. He was good, but not exceptional. He wasn’t remarkable. He was just above average. And being above average isn’t enough. So he quit, and chose to focus on something he knew he could be the best at. And we all know how that turned out.

This is kind of the point Seth Godin makes with The Dip. If you’re not going to be the best at it, quit. Sometimes it’s better to cut your losses, than try to pursue something you’ll only be “above average” at. To truly succeed, you need to play completely to your strengths, and really be the best.

Is there something that you should be quitting today?