If you have been to class this week you will have heard me tell the baby story, which I am paraphrasing from this excellent Enlifted Coaches Podcast on education.
When a baby learns to walk and it falls down, aside from laugh at it's adorable baby nature, we generally cheer and encourage the baby to get back up again, knowing that the more times they try, the more likely there are to succeed. Then we hit 5, go to school, and get told we can never f*** up again - trying is nice, but only if you get it right. The system is not designed to promote falling down, only the nail biting tension of having to permanently perform.
'Take the lesson, move on' - This was said to me by one of my dear teachers Carlos, shortly after we royally cocked up an event on a training course where I was assisting. Even though I was at the periphery of what had happened I was still in panic mode. He had been fully in the middle of it, and this was his reaction.
I liked what he said a lot, and it paired perfectly with the storywork journey I was about to go on.
Every triumph, every tragedy, has a story around it. Many of these stories get super embedded in our Reticular Activating System, which put tres simply, is a system of recognising mental symbols in order to keep us safe.
And it can manifest itself in our language - for example, ‘I am bad at Maths’. This came up in class this week as we discussed schooling, but as was rightly explained by one of our gorgeous Yogi squad; ‘you are probably not bad at maths, you just didn’t pick it up in the way it was delivered to you’. On discussing this we realised she was right. She told us about a builder who stated he was ‘rubbish at maths’, and yet was drawing out Pythagorean triples to work out angles. I remember the fateful day when all the kids whose maths homework I was copying got moved up a set, getting one of my only D grades, and generally having no idea what was happening in the class. This has set up a narrative that I am rubbish at maths, have no grasp of numbers and as such I will struggle with my business and my finances.
Safe to say that is HIGHLY incorrect. But the Reticular Activating System has put a warning there, to keep me from taking a risk, to keep me from failing. The intentions are good, but if I ever want to reach my full potential, I gotta reprogramme that.
One of the things I have loved about storywork and getting to know the Enlifted fam (which if you didn’t know is the name of the coaching courses I did last year based on stories, language and mindset) is how honest they are about the things that didn't work out for them - from relationships to businesses. I am learning a lot from the Americanese here, for it is not very British to say ‘I was shit at that but then I got better’.
But I feel this a lot in many parts of my life; I dated different incarnations of the same guy a dozen times until I got to the bottom of why I was attracted to that type (and even then I did it once (or twice) for the road).
I changed jobs 5 times in one year before I realised that hospitality management wasn't for me.
I have put classes on that nobody came to.
I flashed a postman trying to learn chin stand on a dharma wheel (for context I was at home in pj's as opposed to the sorting office), and I have definitely fallen over doing a power strut in heels across the dancefloor.
Still, I have made teaching yoga my life, I practise chinstand (in the appropriate underwear) and act like Beyonce in heels.
The yoga mat is an excellent testing ground for growth because you are required to try things that will make you feel uncomfortable. I am a massive perfectionist when it comes to movement, so it took me AGES to try anything that was not already in my repertoire (read that as - loved a half moon coz yay arabesque but no way am I twisting or binding or arm balancing). I was more self-conscious than I gave myself credit for and I did not want to fall over, fart or look stupid. An ongoing lesson for me is that if I want to get better or make a big change or grow, I have to be willing to fall over. A recent conversation with a dance teacher on why I never tried to dance professionally was surmised with her stating that ‘maybe you didn’t want it enough’. Although ruthless, it is pretty true - my tender 17 year old self did not want it enough to mess up and try again.
This is part of the reason why when you fall down in class I cheer! By falling over, it means you have brushed through the middle ground, where you pull in all the elements of what you know and expand out. It means you bloody well tried. The journey of the Warrior is to figure out how to get back up again, and even though it alarms you, you do it, and for that I am so so proud of you.
This evening is a Full Moon in Aries. The invitation is to look at our passions, what we want to achieve and the hills we need to climb to get there. While doing this, remember that you may not have worked out the how yet, you may stumble or face plant or take a wrong turn. All this does is teaching us how to get better. I have beautiful P&L spreadsheet - I am doing Fine at maths.