Flipping channels this past Sunday, I came across a skateboard competition. More specifically, it was the vert.
Anyway, I watched mesmerized for about 10 solid minutes. Shaun White and four other guys hopped on a board with wheels, zoomed down a ramp, and started doing all kinds of tricks, feats, and moves. White came out ahead. For three minutes of stuff I'll never be able to do, watch this video:
As I watched these athletes perform some pretty amazing stunts, I watched most of them fall. Time and again, each would attempt some gravity-defying trick, only to have gravity win and send them sliding down the ramp. And each time, the skateboarder got back up, hopped on his board and went another round.
I wondered what it was like to fall from such a height. For these guys, falling is common. They do it every day in practice, and probably in each competition. Some tricks don't work. Sometimes the board goes where you don't want it to. And the only result is to crash down on the ramp.
But what was it like for them to fall the very first time? Were they scared? Nervous? Hopeless? What did it feel like the first time the trick didn't go as planned?
I'm sure they were frightened. I'm sure a look of distress or panic was on their face during that initial moment of despair. But, once they landed on their kneepads or helmet, I bet they realized that they could get up again. In fact, they probably realized they had to get up again. There was no other choice but to rise from failure and try once more.
That's the thing with failure: when something doesn't work out, it's completely harrowing to get up again - the first time. But, once we see how we can - or how we must - get back up, we're more willing to take the big risks that promise big returns.
Sure, failure is bad. But take a lesson from White and crew: you can get back up. Protect yourself as needed, but never be afraid to fly. It's the only way to soar.