OpEd from the desk of Transporter Editor Reed Hollinshead
One of my favorite running backs when I was growing up was a future NFL Hall of Famer with the Chicago Bears, Walter Payton. Not only did he have a really memorable nickname, Sweetness, but he was also known for punctuating every run by falling forward and stretching the ball beyond where he was stopped. Over the course of his career, that practice probably helped him gain several hundred more yards. For an NFL running back, where the average career spans just a few years, several hundred extra yards could mean the difference between holding on to the job for one more year or finding yourself sitting at home on the couch.
Whether you like football or not, or have even ever heard of Payton, there is no denying the importance of falling forward. Not failing forward. Falling forward.
Failing forward has too much of a negative connotation. Falling is a temporary condition — a single point in time — but failure seems to evoke a more permanent label that too often sticks with a person.
This is about the importance of getting out there and trying – not being paralyzed by fear of failure.
It begins early. If your search area is wide enough, you’ll find one in just about every neighborhood. He’s the kid without a neutral or reverse gear in his gearbox, and he was absent the day we all learned about fear and caution.
He was the kid who developed a reputation at an early age, along with facial hair and muscles.
He was the kind of kid who would wrap a dirt bike around a tree and think it was the tree’s fault for being there. He kept doctors and nurses employed, and busy. He was fearless.
We can’t all be fearless, but advancing beyond childhood does not need to mean we give up the fight. In a professional sense, ITD and our employees are already pushing forward. Again, it is not failure. It is understanding that not every attempt will result in a touchdown, but every attempt can start with that goal.
Then, as long as we keep moving the ball forward, we will eventually succeed.
Fear expects failure. Fear tenaciously clings to the past and the familiar. Falling forward is not failing, but it is taking a step forward, more excited about future possibilities than the fear of stepping up.
Move to the side if you must (look for a new path). Shrug off the burden or weight that fear shackles you with, and step up. And it you fall, fall forward.