Well it’s bound to happen, and it did…. I fell down some steps as I was going off the stage to write something on the whiteboard. It happened so quickly, and I went down hard and hit my head against the wall and my backside on the steps and my shoulder took the brunt of the fall.
Probably one of the worst things that can happen to a speaker – in the middle of a 2-hour session is to fall down. Luckily, I was able to regain my composure and as I quickly stood and said, “well now that I have your attention….” I felt the audience breath a sign of relief. I too, was breathing a sigh and quickly had to force myself to focus and keep going. Oh, to have packed up and walked out right then and there but no… the show must go on and I’ll deal with the bruises and pain on the plane home and for few days afterwards.
The lesson is simply this – things happen. And unfortunately for me this is second time I’ve fallen in 20+ years but oh the smell of the carpet never leaves ones imagination. I was speaking in Florida a few years ago and in the middle of my presentation, due to a terrible storm outside, a ceiling tile fell down next to me on the stage. Not a great feeling that I might be picked up and carried off the Kansas Toto. But once again things happen and once again, I had to keep going.
I don’t tell you things to brag or bore but to simply express that no matter how hard you try, how hard you work, how hard you plan, how hard to prepare – things will happen that you didn’t work for, plan for, prepare for and you have less than a minute to make a comeback, to make a statement, to stand back up, and to carry on.
In that moment what will do? I see many people work hard and unfortunately fate doesn’t smile on them and down they go. Sometimes they take others with them – sometimes they fall alone taking their hopes and dreams down deep into the carpet and every once in a while, some will – due to anger, frustration or shame will drag the good will of others down with them.
Think – what will you do?
Ben Franklin said, “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”.
Fred Couples said, “When you’re prepared, you’re more confident. When you have a strategy, you’re more comfortable.”
So, in thinking about rebounding I wanted to share with you three simple rules to help you get back up and get going and moving forward.
1st – It happened – You cannot go back and change it so move past it.
I love the quote – don’t look back you’re not going that way… Friends, go forward with recognition that it didn’t work this time but that does not define you. It just didn’t work out this time. If you’re like me you’ve made plans for many areas of your life now make a plan to give yourself warnings of what might happen if it doesn’t go your way (in my case don’t wear new shoes or at least scuff the bottoms to give traction).
There is nothing more dangerous than allowing your pride to keep you from doing something just because you faltered once at it – that doesn’t mean it will happen again. And if it does, so what… what’s really at work here is pride – your pride and once you get past that you can do most anything.
2nd – Think about a 2nd way. I had history on my side – I have fallen before and I have seen others fall and I know the gut reaction of myself and the audience who live vicariously through our falls to know that you must quickly get back up – steady yourself – gain your composure and acknowledge what just happened so your audience can breathe. If I had just gotten up without saying something clever, they would have thought I was a nut. No one falls down without some reaction. Be real your audience will find a measure of sympathy for you if you acknowledge what just happened.
After I fall I am quick to tell a story about seeing my photo on the city channel at my chiropractor office and then I alluded to the fact that I’m sure I’ll be going back to my chiropractor now… to which my audience laughed – because goodness knows when you fall down steps your neck, back, head is now out of joint.
When I say think about a 2nd way – you do this in your personal life – you start down a path and if it doesn’t suit you make adjustments. Or at least you change your course of direction. You don’t just continue to failure – that’s not an option. So, as you would do this in your personal life consider how you can put into place a few ramps to either safely take you off course or to you slow you down, so you don’t wreck.
Speaking of ramps and wrecking – I was traveling to TN to speak at a conference and I was amazed and intrigued by all the ramps off to the side of the winding highway through the mountain pass to protect the drivers if their brakes go out…. Better to go up an incline than over the guardrail.
3rd – You’ve set your direction now follow through. Even though it is hard (and you may be hurting) if possible, keep going and follow through. Why? Because you committed to it and you are not the type of person who doesn’t follow though – you have more strength and stamina and stick-to-it-of-ness than that. Because friends the hardest thing you will do is to keep working on your dreams and goals while in pain. But what choice do you have since you’re not a quitter.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I do not hope for failure in any way. My hope is that you find your footing to stand and stand tall against all odds.
As your coach the survival tip is simple – to be safe and secure to the best of your ability you might need to pack a lamp, at lifeboat or a ladder that will carry you to safety, you’ve just got to remember to pack it… and that takes advanced planning.
And then when it all comes at you – you can say…you had a plan for What You Will Do.