Have you ever seen a small child learn how to walk? If you have, you know what a remarkable experience it is. I'd heard about this, but had never witnessed it first-hand until Samantha, our (almost) five-year-old, took her first real steps when she was just over a year old. She and I were playing in our family room one night, and although she'd taken a step or two here and there and could get around okay while holding onto an adult or a piece of furniture, she hadn't really "walked" yet.
That night I was holding her hands and pulling her across the room with me, as she took some steps. I decided to let go to see what would happen. I did, and she took a step or two and then fell down, face first, on the soft carpet. She was fine. She looked up at me, and although she couldn't speak, she made it very clear that she wanted me to pick her up so that she could try again. I did, and this time when I let go she took about four or five real steps and then fell down. I screamed, "You did it!" started clapping wildly, and yelling for my wife Michelle to come into the room.
Michelle came running in. Samantha and I went to the far end of our family room. I held her hands to steady her, started walking with her across the floor, let go, and then it happened -- she really walked -- all the way across the room, by herself. When she fell down, Michelle and I were so elated and moved, we both burst into tears and joyous laughter at the same time. Samantha, so proud of herself, began to shriek with excitement and to clap her hands as she was lying there on the floor. And, of course, she wanted to get back up and go again.
We all know how to do this -- fall down and get back up. Assuming we know how to walk, which most of us are fortunate enough to be able to do, we went through this specific and miraculous experience ourselves when we were very small. We've also gone through it in a figurative sense many other times as we move through the ups and downs of life. The question isn't whether or not we'll fall down, but whether we'l be bold enough to get back up again. Too often, sadly, we fall down and then decide we can't get back up. Boldness is about having the courage, willingness, and commitment to get back up when we fall down -- even if we're scared or don't think we can.
Resisting, complaining about, or even feeling sorry for ourselves about the "bad" things that happen is totally normal, and it's what we're often encouraged to do by people around us and our culture in general -- whether we do it out loud with others or just in our heads. However, these things, while understandable, don't address the real issues, the emotions we're experiencing, or make things better for us. Facing difficulties in our life can actually be an incredibly rewarding and positive experience for us -- if we choose to allow our challenges to be opportunities for growth.
- Give us important feedback about where and who we are
- Provide an opportunity for us to be courageous
- Allow us to wake up and notice all the good things that are happening that we hadn't been paying attention to
- Give us a great opportunity for learning, growth and improvement
- Allow us to learn to appreciate ourselves, even when things don't turn out exactly as we want them to
- Give us an opportunity to get in touch with, take responsibility for and express our real emotions in an authentic way
- Challenge us to play bigger, make adjustments or re-think our approach
By learning to see our challenges as opportunities, we take our power back from the situations, circumstances and outcomes of our lives. Our ability to appreciate difficulties, learn from them and use them to our advantage, gives us important insight into who we really are and how to create success and fulfillment in a conscious, deliberate and authentic way.
Being bold, going for what we want and living with authenticity doesn't in any way mean we won't fail, struggle or fall short. In fact, if we aren't failing or facing any challenges at all, it's probably a good indication that we aren't playing all that big in our lives. It's important for us to make peace with the fact that we will fall down many times throughout our journey. However, when we make a commitment to ourselves to get back up, dust ourselves off, be real about how we feel and what happened and not let it stop us from being who we are and going for what we want, we tap into what true power, boldness and authenticity are all about.
As Mark Twain reminds us in one of his many famous quotes, "Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."
Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of "Focus on the Good Stuff" (Wiley) and "Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken" (Wiley). More info can be found at www.Mike-Robbins.com.