Why Falling (and Failing) is Good For Personal Growth
Last weekend, I did something I’d never thought about doing before: I skied my first double black diamond run.
*cue the dramatic music*
Taking it to the Edge of Your Limits
There is nothing quite like coming to the edge of a mountain, seeing the steep grade below and then having something inside of you decide, “Sure, why not?”
Excuse me, say that again?! I am not an expert skier as the terrain sign advised. I first learned to ski when I was 25 years-old (aka 5 years ago) with only a once-yearly visit to the Rocky Mountains giving me less than 15 days skied total in my life up until we moved to Colorado. Since living here for over a year now, I have taken countless trips up to the slopes with my accomplished snowboarder boyfriend and some other very talented ski friends.
Surrounding yourself with people who are better than you at something can be totally intimidating. But for me, it’s encouraged me to want to get better so that I can ski with them. I have no expectations that I’ll get to their level any time soon. Practice takes practice and repetition is huge when learning a new skill. But I’ve found that I’m less and less afraid/fearful/freaked out every time we go. I feel more confident of my abilities and am eager to try more new things to hone my technique. I feel comfortable being uncomfortable because I know that I’ve got support from those around me, which leads me to openly ask for help and actually listen to instruction.
Sure, sometimes it’s hard to check my ego at the ski lift and I find myself getting frustrated when I ski out of control or fall uphill. But what’s been the most helpful for me is reminding myself that this is a fun thing that I chose to do. And it’s up to me to shape how the experience goes.
Being Okay With Where You Are
I think one of the hardest things we come up against when we set out to learn something new is being ok with not being the best at something and giving ourselves the grace to be right where we are. Every day is different. A fresh start. Being in tune and aware of what today is like - in our minds, with our emotions, and in our bodies - is huge in determining how we experience any given thing. Every time up the hill is a new opportunity.
Five years ago I wouldn’t have even contemplated a blue run much less a double-black. And now I’ve launched myself over a precipice down a super steep incline for the fun of it. I’ve made huge progress. The things that I did before and the practice that I’ve put in has led me to be a little bit better this next time out.
If I didn’t go chasing waterfalls, I’d just be stuck to the green bunny hills that I was used to (a la TLC).
Now that is something worth celebrating!
Falling Today Prepares You for Falling Less Tomorrow
So I did it. I successfully “shredded” a double-black diamond run. This new-found confidence led me to embark on another opportunity to try something I’ve never done before. My growth mindset was definitely on full throttle - I was excited, energized and engaged in my experience. With the encouragement and instruction of my friends, I then attempted to ski through a slight gully of moguls on the edge of some trees. But I totally talked myself out of it. See ya, growth mindset! Reverting back to fixed thinking, “I’ve never done this before. It’s terrifying and unknown.” I got stuck in my own head and instead of doing what I know I’m capable of (turning my skis), I just went straight downhill into a huge pile of snow, barely missing the tree next to me. Total wipeout.
Funny enough, I wasn’t freaked out at all. I just got up smiling, dusted the snow off (and out of my pants/jacket/helmet) and sought input on where I failed. “You just, didn’t turn,” my friend said. He was totally freaked out and completely surprised that I popped right back up. I fell. Ok. I’m not embarrassed. I tried something and fell/failed. But now I know. To turn. To commit to leaning forward and downhill and not sitting back on my heels. Sounds silly and obvious for any skier, but it was a lesson I could have only learned from falling.
Falling is so educational. Because we learn how to push ourselves to do something that we know we might fail at and we do it any way. When we’re open to new experiences without expectation, we can try and fail without being so hard on ourselves. We give ourselves the opportunity to learn and take that experience into the next one.
When we fall today, we learn how not to fall tomorrow.
Keep trying new things, expanding your horizons and embarking on novel paths. Go forth and fall (and fail) and fall again! And share your stories along the way - would love to about what you’re trying!
We curated a 15-minute Spotify playlist to put sound to falling (& getting up) - check it out!