Photographic proof of how to fail! After my anti-ninja rant last week, it was perhaps inevitable that the universe would see fit to prove that I am not a ninja by any stretch of the imagination. Behold my foot. (see pic) It’s not supposed to look like that.
Let the laughter and taunting begin!
The End of My Parkour Lesson
As I vaulted gracefully over the first 4′ block and approached the more imposing 6′ padded barrier at a full run, I had nothing to fear. I had cleared it a half dozen times already and as I’m 6’4″ myself, I reckoned that if I collided with it my 190 lbs would more than likely flatten it and the diminutive gym teacher holding it in place.
One foot goes halfway up the wall while your hands slap the top of the barrier, providing a pivot point to convert your forward momentum into upwards velocity as you vault over and land gracefully on the comfortable-looking floor pad on the other side.
At least so goes the theory.
Reality looked reasonably similar except for the graceful landing part, which was replaced by a pop, a surprised expression, and the subsequent agony of my right ankle twisted at an implausible angle to the left of where it should be. Fortunately, I retained enough of my wits to cry feebly for help.
My ankle was dislocated and (as I’d later learn) fractured.
How to fail? Laugh It Off
Failing sucks. But it happens. A lot.
It’s been a long time since I injured myself badly, but I was fortunate in that I could see the humor of the situation almost instantaneously. As I lay on the ground hoping that my ankle would suddenly pop back into place, I had to start laughing. It was presumptuous of me to start vaulting 6′ barriers after my second class and it was perhaps inevitable that I’d hurt something.
So I laughed long and hard.
(Important note: If this happens to you, call for help first, then laugh. If you laugh first, people tend to ignore your “no really, I broke my ankle” claims.)
In the same way, coming back to the US to start a company after five years abroad with little sense of the local market is potentially stupid and some flailing about was overwhelmingly possible. However, the possibility for injuring either my body or my ego is not an acceptable excuse. The real failure would be not to try at all. Stumbling on the way, that’s just part of the fun.
So it’s healthy to laugh about it. Laughing does great things to you when you’re injured. It jacks up all your endorphins (mmm…sweet sweet endorphins) and it also gives you a sense of perspective. Even in pain, I just learned something and will know better next time.
(In this case, avoid hitting the top of the mat straight because by the time it compresses you’ll be at an angle.)
If All Else Fails…
However, sometimes you can’t get up.
Certainly in this case, I couldn’t even consider getting to my feet until my ankle was back in place. That’s when other people come in handy. Other people can do all sorts of useful stuff like help you up, get a pack of ice, and drive you to the hospital. They can also take blurry pictures of you to commemorate the occasions. (Thanks Tota!)
Teammates, co-founders, and advisors play the same role in your startup. I can’t imagine what I’d do without co-founders to talk me down when I’m wrong, back me up when I’m right, and flat out get things done. The fellow entrepreneurs I’ve come to rely on for advice serve the same functions. And in addition to giving great business advice, they’ll also swing by the drug store and pick up ice packs for my ankle.
Other people are great. If you don’t think so, consider a career where you don’t have to talk to anyone. Perhaps a monk.
- The universe has a wicked sense of humor.
- You’re going to fall down at some point.
- Pick yourself back up if you choose how to fail.
- If you can’t pick yourself back up, make sure you’ve got a good team to help you.