• Apollo

Don't learn to fall with grace

When falling, don't do it with grace. Fall safely instead.

I'm from cold, icy Finland. Yes, the country that is not supposed to exist with that one popular female prime minister that even Elon Musk occasionally tweets about. Other than that and being a Nordic welfare state, this cold country isn't know for much else.

The visiting exchange students I've met have said that Finland gets insanely cold during the winter. Temperatures tend to dip to almost -40 degrees Celsius at least once a winter. For all the Fahrenheit scale fans, -40 is where the °F and °C scales meet. That's cold enough for frostbite to occur after 5–10 minutes of exposure. It is freakishly cold.

Be careful or you'll find yourself on the ground

As much as that heading sounds like a veiled threat, it's actually legitimately good life advice here. Living here requires you to be on good terms with the weather. Or to try your best at least, like I did. I went on a walk in -27 °C (-17 °F) weather. My breath froze on my glasses as the icy winds whipped my feet and hands turning them numb, despite three layers of clothing. It was not especially pleasant.

When the temperatures drop sharply, the snow melts which then turns into crystal-clear ice as the temperatures fall again. Walking on that and not falling becomes a skill in itself, if not an impossibility outright. It's also when falling becomes a "when", not an "if" question. There's not much use in falling with grace if you get your teeth knocked out in the process, so learn to fall safely instead.

Learning to fall or learning to fail?

Failing at something is really close to slipping on ice. When you're out there, shuffling awkwardly on slippery surfaces, you're engaged in a true challenge, just like when playing with failure. When your foot slides sharply toward one direction and you promptly lose your balance, time slows down. It's both an embarrassing and humbling experience – I have rarely seen anyone get laughed at for falling on ice here because we've all been through that (it hurts!).

If we thought the same about failing, we would be much better off. Failure stings, that's totally true! Getting rejected, having your business fail, or even not getting into university is tough. But there's no other way out than to cope and move on.

If you fell on slippery ice, would you just stay there for the rest of your life? Definitely not (or maybe you would, I don't know you. I hope you wouldn't, though). Few want to sit on cold hard ice when they can get up and continue their pilgrimage forward. Assuming, of course, that you can get up by yourself. Not everyone is granted that opportunity and those of us who are should be grateful for it.

Meet the most impressive skill of them all

Failure is an art. It is unconditionally the most impressive skill in the world. Why? Because those who embrace failure grow faster than anyone else. They roll with the punches, take the fall, and get up. They could slip and fall 12 times but it doesn't matter because they get up 13 times. They don't get sulky or irrationally angry at themselves, but try to look at what went wrong. People have and continue to prove that experiencing, embracing, and breathing failure works extremely well.

Take James Dyson for example. He created a total of 5,126 failed prototypes before he created his revolutionary bag-less vacuum technology. Or the founder of Canva, Melanie Perkins, who was rejected over a hundred times by investors, until she found someone that believed in her idea. Failure is such a powerful skill because it's directly proportional to the effort you're putting in your work: Mozart failed more at his craft than the average piano player has spent time playing, and that's what made him so good.

It's what you make of failure that matters, not that it happens in the first place.

Learn to fall safely.