The best place to fall is very close to the ground

After thinking a bit about math yesterday and the ideas in Dan Finkel’s Ted Talk, I was struck by one of his pieces of advice: students need time to struggle.

There are a couple of places that have had me thinking about productive struggle lately. One is from Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead. In part four of her book: “Learning to Rise” she discusses the importance of learning how to fail. We often hear great catch phrases like “fail early, fail often” or “fail forward” and those sound great, but are hard to put into action. She actually has a whole book on the topic called Rising Strong, which is also wonderful.

I’d really recommend taking the time to read her books because they’re wonderful and will change your life (yes, I know I’ve said that twice). For now, the super condensed formula for getting through a failure:

  1. The Rumble: step back and recognize the story you’re telling yourself about your failure.
  2. The Reckoning: Get curious about the story and what it’s telling us about ourselves that might be totally unrelated to this situation.
  3. The Revolution: Move through those emotions and figure out the lessons from this failure and how to put them into action

I want to share these ideas because as a parent, this comes up a lot for me. My taekwondo students have been working on actual falling (like on the ground) for the last six weeks, and we’ve said over and over in class, “the best place to learn to fall is very close to the ground.”

With my kids, there are so many things that are faster, easier and more efficient to just do myself: picking out their clothes, brushing their teeth, reading their books at bedtime, cutting their food into bite sized pieces. But these are the daily “falls” that are very close to the ground.

Giving them time to struggle with the coordination, use patience, and build skills required to do these things are the things I want my kids to be able to do on their own someday. We can have a dozen opportunities for going through the Rising Strong process before we even get out the door in the morning. And, just like lifting weights (we start with the easy ones), we can start with the easy rumbles and be more prepared when the bigger ones come our way.

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