Four Secrets to Unleashing the Power of Your Next Stumble

by Alli Polin on January 23, 2018

My daughter had a big presentation at school at the end of the year. I decided to wear my fancy-schmancy high heel sandals to the ceremony. As I teetered on my 4.5-inch heels, I looked good. Billy Crystal would have been proud. 

We walked with purpose across the lawn towards the auditorium since we were running late. Of course, I nearly fell at least three times along the way, but almost doesn’t count, right?

I sat in my seat and gratefully loosened the straps on my shoes. I didn’t need them on my feet to watch the final assembly and beam with pride at my daughter during her two seconds of the two-hour long meeting. 

On the way out, I spoke to my daughter’s friend’s parents about upcoming vacation plans as we walked down dozens of steps to get out of the building. Five steps from the bottom the world went into slow motion. 

Ankle turned.

Railing disappeared.

The fall. 

There I was on the ground with a throng of parents around me asking if I was ok. 

Of course, I was ok! I bopped up and gave my thanks for their concern. I spotted my husband and took his arm, and he didn’t have to ask. 

I’m hurt,” I mumbled. 

I know,” he mumbled softly in return.

Funny how I had to be OK. No room to show weakness or that I wasn’t 100%. It’s the same with many of my coaching clients. We dance for the first few sessions as they assure me that they’re good. Really good. Totally and completely good. After a few conversations, and we finally get past the must-be-seen-as to who they really are – human

I get it if you don’t want to lay at the bottom of the steps in a heap and cry –  I didn’t. I also understand if you want to show your strength; your resilience. Still, it doesn’t mean you’re not hurt and need the time to repair and recharge. 

Ready to unleash the power of your next stumble? 

1) Ask Yourself: Who do you have in your life that you can turn to after a fall and share your pain? Your scuffs and less than perfect bits? If you don’t have someone, find someone. Coach, friend, mentor, spouse; it doesn’t particularly matter. Trust someone and tell them how you feel instead of holding it all inside. Brainstorm, be vulnerable, and take a much-needed deep breath.

2) Don’t hide. You don’t need to hide every stumble and mess up you make. Do you really think everyone thinks you’re so perfect you never have a misstep? When you share your falls and stumbles, not only do people see you as human (because you are) but you also give them permission to do the same.

3) Laugh. Even if you’re still smarting, laugh, giggle, and guffaw. So what that you stumbled? Ready for the big secret of the millennium? Everyone does. Learn to laugh it off instead of yelling, screaming and crying instead. 

4) Make a change. I went home and changed my shoes. It’s not that simple to change your direction but making no change at all will create the same results. Pick one thing and start there. Try again, and maybe you’ll stumble again, but maybe you won’t. If you do, go back to #1 and start again. 


Do I still wear my rockin’ high heels? You bet. Do I wear them when I know I’ll be walking across fields and up and down countless steps? Come on, you already know the answer… (It’s yes by the way. My change was to learn hold on to someone or the railing) Remember, small changes can yield meaningful results. 

How have you moved forward when you’ve stumbled?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Gruber January 23, 2018 at 8:56 am

I suppose our most important lesson about stumbling, falling and getting up again comes from watching toddlers learning to walk. None I have seen or known have said, guess I won’t try that again. Beyond learning how to walk, whether in high heels or wearing high heels and dancing backwards a la Ginger Rogers, the lessons here are so sound and practical. I especially like the last one about making a change. That appeals to me the most because I’m a constant work in change, a fanatic about changing in order to grow and make progress. Decide what kind of change you need or want, design it, and follow the plan.


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ January 23, 2018 at 10:16 am

Wonderful topic Alli. Embarrassment and insecurity can take over a person’s life if they don’t learn how to see the stumbles as a sign that they are human.

Love your list. From my perspective:
– Share your stumble with others and you will find that your vulnerability helps them and builds new bonds.

– Let your stumble develop your empathy, compassion, and emotional intelligence. Don’t miss this opportunity!



Terri Klass January 23, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Fantastic post Alli! I am so sorry to hear about your mishap but it sounds like you bounced back with even more resilience.

The point that resonates with me the most is number one-Turning to someone we trust to help us through. Many of us, including myself, find it difficult asking for help but truly need it sometimes. I only reach out to people I trust and know they will give my honest advice in a caring way.

Thanks Alli and will share!


LaRae Quy January 25, 2018 at 2:14 pm

I loved this post, Alli…and I’m sorry you took a tumble. It’s times like that when pride really does step in and dictate behavior. And often it happens subconsciously…only later can we reflect on why we behaved as we did and whether it was the best response or not. Like Terri, your first point about the need to find someone to share is critical. “Ask Yourself: Who do you have in your life that you can turn to after a fall and share your pain?” Your husband had the perfect response…and it caused me to pause—how do I respond to others when they experience a fall, and how to I respond to myself after a fall? I’m much harder on myself than I am on others…thanks Alli…great post!


Chery Gegelman January 26, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Great story Alli and such a powerful point!

It is so much easier to tell the story of our embarrassment when we are in are past the experience and have had time to think it through and learn from it, and so much harder to be vulnerable when it is unexpected. And yet so very important to learn to laugh at ourselves and to share our struggles.


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