You Can’t Learn if You Don’t Fall

Bikes“You can’t learn if you don’t fall!”

I’m sure years from now, my children will sit around a table at family gatherings and recount the many “Dad-isms” of their growing up years — much as my siblings and siblings-in-law laugh about things our parents said when we were growing up.

And so as I was at a skating rink (yes, they still exist) at our daughter’s 6th birthday party, I found myself saying the above Dad-ism to our eldest daughter, who was on skates for the first time. I knew the instant it came out of my mouth that I was creating fodder for her to laugh at my expense years from now. Nevertheless, the statement was true, and she needed to hear it.

“You’re okay, Babe, you can’t learn if you don’t fall!”

She needed to hear it, because she was afraid of falling.

And who isn’t? Have you ever felt the concrete floor of a skating rink? It hurts. And my daughter didn’t want it to hurt. But she also wanted to learn to skate, and one of the unavoidable truths of learning to do difficult things like roller skating is that in the process of getting better, you will fall. Also, I think part of it is that she doesn’t want to fall in front of her friends, as she has a skating party soon at a venue similar to Super Wheels Skating Center.

But you can’t learn if you don’t fall.

Of course, this truth applies to learning just about anything new that you didn’t know how to do before. It’s just that “fall” doesn’t always mean your body hitting the hard ground.

Those of us who have felt the sting of defeat know that the sting of hitting the hard ground might actually be less than the pain of trying something and failing. But falling — and failing — is a part of learning, whether we like it or not. Here are some things you learn when you fall:

You learn humility.

When everything comes easy, we begin to think that we’re the secret sauce that makes it all work. When we don’t get it right, we’re reminded that we don’t have it all together, so there’s no use in being proud.

You learn how to rely on others.

If my daughter had picked up skating the first time, she never would have needed my help. When we fall, we learn how to work with others who may have strengths and gifts that we don’t possess.

You learn to appreciate the victories.

Yeah, it’s cliché, but I believe it’s true: when you’ve been through the valley, you appreciate the mountaintop that much more. Knowing what it’s like to fail helps you value the wins and the victories when you experience them.

You learn how to get up again.

Whether you make a poor leadership decision or you simply don’t get something right in a project, falling means having to pick yourself up again. When you fall, you learn how to simply pick yourself up again and keep going.


What about you? What would you add to the list?

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