When you decide to learn, you put yourself at risk. Acquiring a new skill--be it juggling, biking, or hand balancing--inherently involves change, and change sets us up for failure.
Lots of it.
We can respond to failure a couple of ways. We can mope, lick our wounds, and give up. Or we can analyze, learn, and integrate.
I want to integrate failure. I want to eat all the failure I can and learn from it. I'll still fail. Repeatedly. But I'll never fail in the same way twice. Here are a few things I've learned while failing at hand balancing.
1. Have An Escape Plan
I fell last December pretty badly and threw my neck out of alignment. Bad news for a movement coach. Luckily I have an amazing support team whose lessons and expertise got me back on track. But I couldn't move my neck for a couple of days. If I had an escape plan, I could have avoided landing right on my neck. I could have saved myself days of pain and moping. But I've learned now how to bail. You can never be too careful.
2. You Can't Force Finesse
Hand balancing surprises most who try it because you simply can't muscle your way through it. It comes down to, well, balance. The biggest imporvements come from tiny adjustments in the shoulders, the pelvis, even in the fingers. When I started learning, I simply threw myself into a wall over and over, expecting something different to happen (Insanity? Yes). Only when I took a microscopic zoom in on the little details did I make considerable progress. I was tired of bruises, scrapes, and falls. They haven't gone away, but they're fewer and farther between.
3. Humility Leads To Growth
It's hard to accept your shortcomings. I hated admitting that I just lacked range of motion in my shoulders. And stability in my midsection. I sucked at the basics. My progress stalled and faltered until I accepted this and started from scratch. When we accept our shortcomings, we can learn from them. Sweeping them under the rug gets us nowhere.
I try to apply these lessons not just to hand balancing, but to life as well.
There's probably a clever handstand metaphor about switching your perspective, but it escapes me at the moment. After eating months of failure I've reached a point where people "ooh" and "ahh" at my handstands, which feels pretty nice. But I look to my teachers and realize I have a lot more failure to learn from. I think I'm ready.