What? You can fall down twice and still receive a gold medal??


My husband and I were playing Bananagrams and watching the Olympics on Valentine's Day. It was very romantic, really! (And we did the fancy cocktails and treats and assorted other romantic things too. Just so you know.) Anyway, we were watching Mens' Figure Skating. The long program. And this young man in a white and sparkly outfit (19 year old Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan) fell down. Twice. He also leaped and jumped and spun around and did all kinds of things on skates that I couldn't come close to doing, even with no skates and the aid of a very bouncy trampoline.

He received the Mens' Figure Skating gold medal. That's right, he fell down twice and got the gold. My friend Deborah and I were chatting about this the other night and talking about how we both have an old belief system in our heads that "gold medal means perfect". As in flawless. No errors, no mistakes - nothing that anyone can point to as wrong.

But that's not true.  Instead, it's about risking a lot.  Making big moves that earn points. Falling down loses fewer points than one might imagine.  It's so much more about what you actually do accomplish.

Just like life.

We forget this.  We are so afraid to risk.  Afraid to fall down if we try that big jump.  Afraid it will get in our way of the gold medal.  But we can't possibly earn a gold medal if we're not willing to fall down. Imagine how many times Yuzuru has fallen as he's learned to skate so well?  A thousand?  Ten thousand? A hundred thousand?  I'm sure it's a lot.

If we're not willing to fall, then we end up in the sidelines watching.  We don't engage fully in our lives, afraid to make a mistake that will impact our "score".

Except that it's not the Olympics, and no one is keeping score, and even if they were, we could fall down twice and still get a GOLD MEDAL!

You have to make some mistakes on the road to amazing.

For those of us who got some idea in our heads (probably at school) that mistakes were not ok, this is a revelation we have over and over.  I think it needs to be embroidered on a pillow. In pretty script.  You can fall down twice and still get a GOLD MEDAL! In the OLYMPICS!

Where can you let yourself do this in your life? Where can you try something new or challenging and allow yourself to fall down?

I've been doing it in dance class with The NOLA Chorus Girl Project. I am learning dances that I can intellectually understand, count out, practice, and sometimes get right, but I regularly mess up.  A lot.  And I've been practicing and practicing and not actually falling down, but missing steps, counts, whole phrases while I try to catch up.  It's fantastic!  I practiced enough (a LOT!) to almost get it right at our performance.  I missed some steps (ones I'd gotten right dozens of times), but the world did not end.  And I kept smiling! (I think!) so I'm giving myself a mental gold medal for that.

I'd love to hear your stories of taking risks or receiving metaphorical gold medals despite "falling".  Let's keep the conversation going in the comments!