Falling Down

I fell down yesterday. Seriously. Literally. Fell right on my rear end. And, this was no minor, stub-your-toe-and-stumble-to-the-ground kind of fall. This was a late-night-sketch-comedy-worthy, prat-fall of the highest order. I don’t want to brag, but Will Ferrell and his ilk can only dream of falling this well.

The beauty of this fall is not only how dramatic it was and how long it lasted but, of course, where and when it occurred. I had just finished presenting to the 50 leaders of my company. The group had moved into conversations at their tables and in my efforts to roam around the room and listen-in to the conversations I backed right into two banquet chairs. What ensued was a backward motion, cartwheeling-arms-flailing, center-of-gravity-defying, two-chair-tumbling, feeling I just might be able to pull out of it, tailspin of certain ruin. It was big. Fortunately, I only scraped up my leg a little bit and, once on the ground, certainly aware that I had gotten most of the room’s attention I yelled out “I’m OK!” as loudly as I could. Laughter followed disbelief. (One just doesn’t expect this sort of thing.) And, ego slightly bruised, I got back to the business at hand.

Did I mention that I had just presented to the leadership of my company? Senior team, Vp’s, directors. The whole lot of them. This is relevant because what I was feeling at the time of the fall was a biting sense of disappointment in myself. I had big plans for this talk – plans to show up authentically, to relate some stories, to really engage the group. And, I didn’t. I operated from fear.

During my talk I was describing the difference between employees who “just get the job done” and those who are creative and truly engaged in the work. I used a music metaphor to describe the difference: one is just playing the notes while the other is really making music. There I was, after my talk, roaming about the room, thinking to myself, I played the right notes but I didn’t make music. And then I fell on my ass.

I am told that Freud once said “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” So, maybe the fall has no meaning. Maybe it had nothing to do with how I felt about the talk. And maybe the two go together like peanut butter and chocolate, a perfect but unlikely pair. One punctuating the other in a totally unexpected but highly relevant way.

I know the talk went better than I can admit. And, I know I fell pretty hard. The thing is, I also got right back up again.

I can’t wait to try again.

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