It’s the 2nd day in my new job. The office is only 4 miles from my house so I decide to ride my bike. I’m not a great cyclist, in fact, I’m pretty average. My bike is no racing machine. It is painted a funky shade of pink and has an extra-wide seat to make it more comfortable on my delicate back-side. Really, all I’m missing are tassels dangling from the grips, a little bell on the front, and a woven basket attached to the handlebars. But I should at least get points for trying, right?
As luck would have it, I pull up to the back door of the office just as two of my coworkers and the co-owner of the company get out of their cars. As I roll to a stop, I ask if it would be safe to lock my bike (a highly valued piece of equipment) to one of the guardrails posted around the parking lot. Before they can answer, I swing my leg over the seat of the bike to dismount. Unfortunately, I fail to account for the backpack strapped to the bike and my leg doesn’t make it over, which means neither do I.
In front of my new work team and my boss, I tumble over the bike, falling under the chain guard, and roll like a turtle into the parking lot.
As you can imagine, this is EXACTLY NOT the impression I was hoping to make after knowing these people an entire 8 hours.
So what do I do? How does one respond to this situation? What are my options? Well, Option one: I figure I can lay on the ground and pout about how unfair life is to me; how fate seems to have it in for me and how the world never cuts me a break. I could decide to never ride that stupid, pink bike again. I could decide to go home, turn in my resignation, end my employment with this new company because in their eyes (and certainly in mine) I look like a fool. I feel stupid and therefore, I must be stupid and they’ll never respect me again.
Option two: I could announce that I intended to do that prat fall as a practice move for my part-time job in the circus. On holidays and weekends I am, in fact, a member of a tumbling troupe of fellow clowns (Jocko and Bongo, my mentors, are old hands at this move and make it look so easy). My stage name is Splat-O.
Option three: I could get up, straighten the handlebars that are now at a 90-degree angle to my front tire, walk the bike over to a post, lock the bike and head upstairs for a day of work. After all, there are no bones broke. Nothing is hurt but my pride. There is work to do, processes to learn, training to complete.
My fall was only one of many that are sure to come in the days ahead. The bike tumble was a very visual representation of a minor misstep. But there will be others. It’s been true in every other job I’ve ever held. It’s been true of my family life. It’s certainly been true of my personal life.
The falls are going to come. It’s the way you respond that matters.
Learn from your mistakes and lean into the wisdom gained.
It was my leg that didn’t clear the bar. It was no one else’s fault.
I am not a clown. I am not stupid. I made an error in judgement related to the height of the bar and the extension of my leg. I own it. I pick myself up. I get back in the game.
THAT’s the impression I wanted to make after knowing these people an entire 8 hours…and every other day.