Monday, March 23, 2015

FALLing Forward: A Process For Progress After Failure

Today, +Terry Doloughty stopped by. It was a followup to an earlier visit in which he and some other friends helped me to unload a chiffarobe that I had brought up from Louisville.

The chiffarobe had belonged to my Dad, and after he passed, I told Mom that it was the only thing of his that I wanted. Mom passed in May, and I went down to pick up the chiffarobe in November.

Loading, transporting, and unloading it turned into much more of an adventure than I anticipated or would have dared imagine, partly because it was missing a wheel and when you tried to move it across the floor, it tilted, and pieces that were held together by tongue and groove worked themselves loose and ultimately my friends and I wound up disassembling and reassembling the thing in my office.

After that, I ordered a pair of wheels online. Tonight Terry installed them. The chiffarobe now sits even - as much as it can on a sloping floor.


None of this has anything to do with what this blog post is about, except that the idea for it popped into my head while Terry and I were working with the chiffarobe.

The idea was a two-word phrase: "fall forward." Or rather, "FALL Forward."

You ever have stuff come to your mind so quickly and completely that you don't even feel like you *thought* of it - that it feels like it just arrived?

"FALL forward" did that. Suddenly I saw an acronym for breaking free of a persistent pattern in my life.

The imprisoning pattern is -

  1. I mess up in some way: I miss a deadline, I fail to keep a promise. I do or say something that I should not have done or said.  Something.
  2. I procrastinate on doing what I could do to fix the situation, partly because I am too busy with #3...
  3. I feel bad about the failure. Like, I work at feeling bad about it. I avoid the other person(s) involved, feeling certain that they now hate me. This persists indefinitely until...
  4. I reconnect with the other person(s) involved, apologize, and if there is still something to be done, go ahead and do it (those items are not necessarily in that order).
When the phrase "FALL Forward" popped into my head this evening, this was the acronym that it contained for breaking free of that pattern:

  1. Forgive yourself. Making this the first step in the process makes it easier to do #2, and thus prevents the endless cycling of #3 above.
  2. Ask forgiveness of the other person(s) involved. You don't have to tell the entire story and history of what lay behind the failure/mistake/sin. Just acknowledge it, apologize and do what you can (if anything) to repair the damage.
  3. Learn from the experience - intentionally and deliberately. Set aside time, sit down with pen and paper, or keyboard and screen, ask yourself, "What can I learn from this?" and don't stop writing until you feel like you've exhausted the lessons from the experience.
  4. Let it go. Really. We all make mistakes or commit sins of varying degrees of severity. Once you've done #s 1-3, rehashing stuff doesn't create additional value for anyone. Let it go. Move forward.
FALL forward.

That's it. I told Terry that I thought it could make a nice short talk, or a booklet, or even a 200-page book for the self-improvement section of the bookstore. All it needs is lots of quotes and anecdotes.

What do you think?
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