What would you do if you knew you would fall … a lot?

by Kerry Martin

Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to go on vacation (thanks, Curley & Pynn!) and try something I had never done before:  ski.

Being from Florida, I don’t have much experience with snow (I don’t think making a snowman once as a toddler counts), and having lived at sea level most of my life, I’m also not a big fan of going downhill (even on a bike I feel out of control).

This vacation just seemed like the time to try something new, though I started having second thoughts after hearing some of the warnings from family and friends:

“You want your pants to have a higher waistline so when you fall they don’t get filled with snow.”

– Ski shop guy selling us our gear

“Oh, you’ve never been skiing?  Well, don’t get hurt from too many falls!”

– Boss

“Just remember to bend your knees so you don’t stiffen up and fall down the mountain.”

– Dad

There was an underlying theme to all of their advice—I’m going to fall down.  It was inevitable.  Not an if, but a when.

I think going into it with that attitude actually helped me get over my fear and just fling myself into learning how to ski, and after more practice, I improved and eventually really enjoyed it.  And yes, I did fall.  I went down on day one at ski school at least twice, and a few times throughout the week (never serious bone-breaking tumbles, mind you, just ski-crossed slips).  By day six, I was doing runs in a quarter of the time it took me at the beginning of the week, and more importantly, I was loving the experience of conquering my fears and challenging myself to do something brand-new.

That experience is something I’m looking forward to bringing into my professional life as well.  I’m going in to any new venture with the expectation that I will stumble, whether it’s spitting out a tongue-twister and ruining an on-camera interview or receiving bored slow-claps after giving what I thought to be a riveting presentation.  When you prepare to do something for the first time, it’s almost freeing knowing that you might not land the best performance.  Hopefully there’s always going to be a next time, so you can practice more and then improve.

So let me ask you this question:  What new thing would you attempt to do if you knew you would fall?

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