It was fifty years ago and school was out for the summer. As I began my needed hiatus from educational instruction, I had to deal with some bad news from Collins Tract Elementary School. My report card contained the unfortunate announcement to my parents that my arithmetic grade had dropped since the previous marking period. I knew that they wouldn't understand, so I retreated across the street to explain my plight to my friend, Mr. Lee. I told him my version of the problem. Like a good psychotherapist, he restated what I had said: "You're stumbling academically in arithmetic, correct?" I nodded affirmatively. Mr. Lee understood my predicament, but more importantly, he wasn't yelling at me or grounding me. Then he nodded that I should sit down across from him.
Mr. Lee began a story about his youth spent in a Buddhist monastery in China. He told me about a foot race he had with someone who he really wanted to beat. Even though he was in the lead to almost the very end, Mr. Lee told me that he tripped just a couple of meters before the finish line and lost the race. His instructor, a Buddhist monk, went over to him and consoled him while making sure that he wasn't injured. Then he told Mr. Lee, "Next time, when you fall, fall forward-you will gain ground. Had you fallen forward in this race, you might have won. Life is a lot like a race. Sometimes, you'll stumble and fall. Make sure that you fall forward and gain ground even when you stumble. Don't make the fall worse by falling backwards."
I readily understood Mr. Lee's story of the race and the monk's admonition, but I didn't see how his story applied to my trouble with my arithmetic grade. After another few minutes of instruction, Mr. Lee explained that falling is often inevitable and out of our control, but we have a choice which way we fall.
In the half century since my falling arithmetic grade, I have discovered the wisdom of my mentor from long ago. I have fallen many times but have tried always to fall forward. Here are several ideas that will help you to fall forward:
If you put Mr. Lee's advice and these suggestions to use in the running of your life, you will be able to gain ground even when you fall. Have a productive run.