I’ve been an equestrian most of my life. So, I was pleased recently to hear James Wedmore say, “We spend most of our lives trying not to fall off the horse. But that’s not the point. Life is about falling off the horse.”
What a perfect metaphor for what life is about, I thought.
Life is About Falling Off the Horse
I still recall one of the first rules I was taught when I began riding horses: “If you fall off, you must get back on the horse!” At age seven, though, I didn’t realize I’d need to put this rule to use continually throughout my life.
Indeed, life is about falling off and getting back on the horse many times. Of course, you learn from the bumps and bruises—even the broken bones. But to put the lessons to use, you must get back on and try another time. You must be courageous enough to put your feet in the stirrups, butt in the saddle, and hands on the reins again.
However, you don’t receive the lessons if fear stops you from mounting the horse after a fall. As a result, you may need to fall again…and again…until you learn. So, by avoiding falling off, you ensure you will fall harder and more often.
Additionally, when you focus on avoiding falling off the horse, you become a cautious rider. Thus, you circumvent any situation that poses a chance you will hit the ground. Ironically, though, your caution attracts precisely what you don’t want—a fall.
Whether you realize it or not, you are focused on falling. And the more you focus on falling, the higher the likelihood that you will, indeed, fall.
Avoiding falling also means you miss out on the lessons that will help you achieve your goals and dreams. You also evade becoming the best version of yourself since every lesson learned and applied enables you to become the best version of yourself.
Stop Conveying Fear
Horses feel riders’ fear. Consequently, they become cautious, too. The riders’ posture, hands, seat, and legs all convey what they are thinking and feeling to the horse. And the horse receives that communication clearly.
I remember being at a horse show and entering a jumping competition. As the horse and I approached a large, scary obstacle, I began to wonder if my horse and I could clear it. I allowed just a little bit of worry into my mind.
What do you think happened?
The horse stopped right before the jump, and I sailed over it alone. Ouch.
If I’m honest, I “took my leg” off the horse, which is equivalent to taking your foot off your car’s gas pedal. I didn’t convey that I wanted him to jump the fence. In fact, I did just the opposite.
Why? Because I was afraid. And when my leg loosened on the horse’s side, I unconsciously communicated, “Wait! I’m afraid! Stop!” And he did.
The Horse as a Metaphor
Let’s look at the horse as a metaphor for Source (Creator, Universe, God, or whatever name you prefer). If you take your leg off as you ride toward your desires, just like the horse, Source says, “Oh! You want to stop. No problem.”
And you find yourself at a standstill or sitting on the ground.
Why? Because Source always gives you what you ask for…including the fulfillment of your subconscious desire to remain safe.
That’s what happens in life. You approach a goal or desire you want to manifest and then feel a moment (or hour or day) of uncertainty. You allow fear to cause you to pull back or relax just a little. You take your leg off.
Source responds to your ques in the same manner as a horse. So it’s no wonder that you stop moving forward, and quite possibly, end up sitting on the ground.
Learn the Lessons
What then? Catch your breath. Stand up and check that everything is working. Then, dust yourself off, and ask, “What just happened?”
Don’t blame the horse…or Source. Instead, take responsibility since both are just responding to your energy, emotions, actions, words, and conscious or subconscious thoughts.
What were you thinking or feeling just before you fell? Review every moment leading up to discovering yourself sitting on your butt.
Determine the lesson you need to learn. What clues can you glean from your perspective on the ground that will help you keep your leg on next time and guide the horse successfully over the fence and toward your goal?
Get Back on the Horse
When you fall, learn and transform from the ground first. Then, when you are back on the horse, apply what you learned. Suppose you only see the lesson from the ground instead of from the saddle, too. In that case, your understanding will be limited…as will your ability to succeed.
Once you know, get back on the horse! And put the lessons you learned to use as you approach the jump—your goal—differently this time.
Too often, riders don’t get back on the horse after a fall because they are afraid of falling again. This makes sense…who wants to fail or get hurt, right? But it makes no sense if you want to succeed as an equestrian.
The same is true of falling off when trying to accomplish just about anything in life. If you fail, try again. You limit your chances of getting the desired result if you don’t.
Failure Leads to Success
Without the falls, you won’t learn the lessons necessary to succeed. You may even need to get back on the horse and fall off…get on, fall off…many times to learn required lessons.
What would have happened if Thomas Edison hadn’t learned the lessons of failing 99 times or tried again in his effort to invent the light bulb. We wouldn’t have light bulbs, obviously.
But Edison didn’t recognize his previous attempts as failures. Instead, he reframed them as a necessary process to achieve success. You can see this in his response to a reporter who asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
J.K. Rowling failed 12 times while finding a publisher for Harry Potter. If she’d remained sitting on the ground, she won’t have transformed her life and the lives of millions of readers. But, she says, “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
Basically, Rowling is saying that avoiding falling off the horse is not living at all…or at the very least not living fully. It’s a form of failure.
And that’s what Wedmore said, too: Life is about falling off the horse. If you aren’t falling off…often, you aren’t living. Instead, you are failing at life.
We are here to fail, learn, and try again. Success comes after repeating this process as many times as necessary.
Welcome the Growth Opportunities
Life gives us many opportunities to fall. It may buck or rear, bite you in the ass, or spook, leaving you sitting in a mud puddle before you realize what happened. Then, all you can do is watch life run off without you.
To live fully and achieve your potential, create the opportunity to fall by stretching past your current comfort zone. Challenge yourself so you do fall off.
When I became an accomplished equestrian, I was told, “If you aren’t falling off, you aren’t trying hard enough or challenging yourself to a new level of excellence.”
Falling off is the point. That’s how you push yourself to grow and succeed. And it’s how you clear the fence with the horse and continue cantering on toward the next, larger challenge.
Consider each fall a growth opportunity. And stop trying not to fall; instead, look for opportunities to land on your butt.
Do you avoid falling off the horse? Tell me in a comment below, and please share this post with a friend.
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