Falling on the Face
I’m not sure exactly what’s so compelling about I-fell-on-my-face stories, but evidently, they sure speak to people.
Case in point: In addition to sending to my subscription list, I post my articles on FB and LinkedIn every week. Like anything else on the socials, some posts get more responses than others – and my article from two weeks ago received a lot of responses. In fact, they’re still coming in.
I can make up that the level of transparency I bring to the table is somewhat rare, particularly for a man. I might surmise that there’s something humanizing – and therefore connecting – about airing one’s imperfections. Likewise, I could point to the refreshing nature of a somewhat accomplished dude simply being straight-up honest.
I suspect it’s a combination of all these things, plus a few more I have no idea about…
What I can’t imagine is why I would limit myself to sharing only the rosy upside stories.
For one thing, that’d put a serious limit on my source material. For another, I’d be painting only half a picture, which just seems silly.
I’ve run into my share of sunny-side-only folks. As much as I enjoy a very broad range of human company, I find the “only positive vibes allowed” crowd challenging to hang with.
It’s not that I’m a creature of the dark, it’s simply that I prefer a life where days and nights flow into and out of one another. Not to get all religious on y’all, but I’m of the opinion that there’s some solid wisdom to be found in a good reading of Ecclesiastes.
I could be digressing, though…
Culturally, we’re not terribly good at celebrating failure. We can talk a good game, but still teach, in ways subtle and not, that answers win over questions, and that certainty is valued over curiosity.
I don’t have nightmares about big red marks on schoolwork, but when I think back on some of the humiliation that was part of my early educational experience, it’s all right there.
Yet I’ve learned more invaluable lessons from full-on face-plants than from elegantly executed turns. Bad decisions taught me how to make good ones. Relationships gone sideways were essential parts of the path that led to finding my heart’s well-appointed home.
From where I stand, an education without failure is woefully incomplete, to say nothing of unrealistic.
And I just plain ache for a world in which everyone, but especially grown-ass men, take full ownership of their errors and failures – and practice the art of sharing them responsibly with the world.
Because while excellence and its pursuit are good things, perfection is illusory. It’s easy (and tempting) to hide behind walls of curated social media, to tell incomplete stories in corporate presentations and, of course, political speeches and messaging.
No matter how one packages oneself, real life eventually muscles its way in, and the walls of illusion fall away.
Which leads me back to the falling-on-the-face stories: I think the reason they resonate so powerfully is that they allow people to exhale, to drop facades, to know that – imperfections included – they are enough. To feel less alone.
Vulnerability does take a modicum of courage and self-trust. It’s not hard, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I typically have moments of questioning before hitting “send” on an article like the one I published on September 7.
I’m slowly discovering that those questions are my intuition’s way of telling me I’m onto something, that sharing this stuff isn’t as much about me as my ego says it is.
Men, are you paying attention..?