Falling Off Horses


Falling off horses… is not normally considered to be a good thing.

Because… you might break bones etc.

But falling off horses in the context of personal and spiritual development… as a metaphor… just might be a good thing… it’s all a matter of perspective really.

Let me explain.

One of the best and most helpful sayings I have ever heard on the subject of personal development is from Duane Packer… who probably got it from someone else… who got it from someone else… etc… etc…

And the saying goes…

Mastery isn’t how long you stay on the horse… mastery is how quickly you realize you have fallen off the horse and get back on.

And the reason why I love that saying is because it completely changes the gestalt around personal development… and how you define the success of your own inner growth.

It’s really a case of how we define mastery… and whether we define it in an empowering and positive way… or not.

Suppose I am wresting with a lifelong personal issue which is holding back my development.

And for 6 months I have been holding things together.

But then one night, I give in to temptation in some way… and I fall off the horse.

Now, if I define mastery by how long I stayed on the horse… then I will be devastated, I may even sink into depression, and those same negative feelings may work against my own ability to climb back on the horse.

But if I define mastery by how quickly I realize I have fallen off, and can get back on… then this cuts through so much shame, guilt and negative mind-talk… and gets me more quickly to what needs to happen next… i.e. getting back on the horse.

As an approach… it’s far more more compassionate and forgiving with and about yourself.

We’re human… we do tend to fall of horses from time to time… and so we need to fill our minds with approaches and strategies which best support ourselves in getting back on the horse.

How does a plane get from London to Los Angelesdoes it fly in a straight line at all times?

Nope… the winds at that altitude are too strong and it is continually being pushed off course… and the on board computer is continually having to make course corrections to reach its destination.

Same with life really… yes, we have our goals… our dreams… our ambitions… and we should never lose sight of those… or keep moving towards them.

But to get there… a journey of a thousand miles, starting with the first step… when we are knocked off course… when we fall off the horse… we will get back on the horse many times… and that’s really OK.

And doing so is not a sign of weakness… it’s a sign of being realistic… it’s a sign of being practical… it’s a sign of being human.

And sometimes, the difference between failure and success isn’t really what happens on the outside… it’s all about how we mentally frame events in your own head.

(c) Brian Parsons September 2016

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