I need friction. We all need friction. Friction allows one to deviate from our straight path to failure.
I was at the ice rink the other day, playing a variation of hockey in which everyone plays with their normal tennis shoes. It was fun – playing without limiting restriction, facing the challenge to stay on our feet. Anyway, later in the game, I raced to the puck to insure a clear shot to the goal when out of nowhere, a girl stepped in my path to steal the puck. With my growing speed and shrinking friction, I was helpless. In the seconds before we collided, I knew there was nothing I could do. I could not stop; I could not turn; I could only brace the fall.
Recuperating from the fall, I noticed three reasons I fell so terribly:
- I had hit an unusually slick spot in the ice, which looked no different from the rest.
- I was not properly equipped for such a situation, as my shoes were only flat-bottomed.
- I was so focused on scoring the goal on the other side of the rink that I overlooked the obstacles right in front of my eyes.
First, I want to throw something out there: There are no bad days, only crummy moments. There was only one slick spot that I hit in my run from one side of the rink to the other. Does it make any sense to say that was a terrible drive because one second of it didn’t go well. Perhaps there was no avoiding that spot, but even if the whole rink were equally slick, whether or not you can have a bad run is entirely determined by how quickly you choose to recover from an inevitable failure.
I chose to go out on the ice in my tennis shoes, knowing full well that I was harming my stability and ability to maintain control. Yes, the shoes were perfect when I was walking moments before entering the rink, but if we do not prepare ourselves before a foreseen change in circumstances, we already accept our defeat. After all, he who fails to prepare only prepares to fail.
Finally, there was no flaw in my desire to score a goal for my team, but in the approach I took to fulfill it. My great momentum and excitement led me to look past the opponents that stood before me. Maybe scoring the goal is the most important move, but if I act too prematurely, refusing to work my way there in progressive increments, then I have ruined everyone’s chances of scoring in that drive.
I will admit that there is almost no greater fear in my mind than that of complete powerlessness. Certain moments, you cannot determine whether you stand or fall, but your preceding choices will. Nonetheless, if one ever finds himself at a point where the fall is inevitable, he has two choices: bask in the unfairness he felt to receive, or get up and try again.