Can We Learn From Falling Down?

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    falling-down-li.pngBefore we talk about what we learn from falling down, I want to share a story with you...

    My company used to sponsor an event for children with disabilities every year. It was like a large picnic for them and their families and of course, lots of volunteers.

    We had several competitive events and lots of prizes for the kids. One of those events was a wheelchair race.

    The race involved a grass field. You had to go to the end and come back to finish the race. It involved the kids who used wheelchairs taking turns 'drafting' their driver for the race. The driver pushed the wheelchairs.

    There was one child who used a wheelchair named Gil. The first couple of years, Gil simply watched all of the events, never really participating. He seemed sad so we all spent time making friends with him.

    On the third year, he asked me to help him talk his mom into letting him be in the wheelchair races. She finally agreed after some convincing.

    He chose a specific girl as his driver and it became clear why he wanted to be in the race. So, the race started and they were doing very well, but at the far turn, she fell and turned the wheelchair over and Gill went rolling, ending up about 10 feet away.

    The mom gave me a look that made me feel this was definitely my fault for talking her into it, then we both ran over to Gil and his new driver. The girl was rolling him onto his back.

    And he was dying laughing with tears rolling down his eyes, leading the girl he liked to start laughing too.

    His mom stopped in her tracks, completely shocked, tears rolling down her cheeks. She told me she hadn't heard him laugh like that since he was a little boy.

    Gil told me later that he hadn't felt the grass or rolled in the grass or done anything that exciting in years and meeting his new girl was a bonus.

    His mom came over and hugged me and thanked me for talking her into letting him participate. She thought she was protecting him by not letting him 'fall down'.

    What can we as entrepreneurs learn from a story like this?

    As entrepreneurs, we have a vision. We have goals and know what we want to achieve. Most of us know what to do when we fall down. Entrepreneurs fall down and get back up all the time.

    You can hire people to help you achieve your vision. But there is something missing when you do that. They may believe in you. They may be loyal to you.

    But have you made it their vision too?

    Let the people you work with get into the race. Incorporate their ideas into your vision so that it becomes your 'shared' vision. They will work 10 times harder when it's a shared vision rather than helping you with your vision.

    Just like Gil's mom learned, you have to allow them to take some of the same type of risks that you take. You also have to understand that they might fall down. Then you can teach them how to get back up and move forward.

    A 'shared' vision builds loyalty and gets more hard work and creativity out of your team in a way that hiring people to work on 'your' vision can never do.

    What else can we learn from falling down?

    --Chris McElroy