At a glance it appears she’s done it. She has reached a “balance point” that prevents her from falling, but a closer look with a keener eye will reveal that what we think of as balance is actually achieved by a continuous series of self-corrective movements, each aimed at bringing the subject back to center. If you were to watch the gymnast up close, you could see that the muscles in her shoulders work constantly as she subtly shifts her weight forward and backward, side to side, to find and regain her center. Random little event after event will pull her away – a gust of wind, a subtle vibration, a muscle-twitch, a misguided thought. Still, she regains composure and to the outside world, all is calm – she is balanced.
In summation, we can see that the true skill in mastering a handstand has little to do with arriving at a fixed point and staying there, and everything to do with the gymnast’s ability to repeatedly center herself when pulled off course.
Perhaps we can carry this notion into our lives and use it, first, to alleviate any pressure we may place on ourselves to obtain the unobtainable – constant balance in an inconsistent world. And second, to give ourselves permission to stray off course from time to time – knowing that our real strength lies in our ability to right ourselves once we’ve gone astray. It is the exercising of those little stabilizer muscles, both physical and mental, that build a more solid foundation for the future.
Success is a product of resilience.
Falling is not failing. There is no balance. Just keep balancing…
* This post is dedicated to the “balancing crew” from Esalen Institute, leadership workshop, 2010 – Big Sur, California. Special thanks to Gustavo Rabin for leading a wonderful group.