Friday, August 14, 2009

The Fall Guy

In the early 1980’s, there was a TV series called ‘The Fall Guy’, with Lee Majors as a Hollywood stunt-guy. He took the fall, myriad times and helped the actors look good. Stunt-people work behind-the-scenes, and only get recognition when the credits roll. The idiom ‘pride comes before a fall’ describes the danger of complacency. ‘The bigger you are, the harder you fall’ is another cautionary note. Most times, the word ‘fall’ has many negative connotation ably assisted by the force of gravity. However, the ability to fall can have useful consequences on the actions you take.

The orientations of falling include:

Fall behind: Stragglers get abandoned when they cannot catch up. When you cannot keep up with the pace then the team has to decide on what to do with you. Sometimes, those who delay others may be helping, by managing the pace. Slower may be faster, in the systemic sense. As leaders, we should show consideration for those falling behind and get them to catch up (through skills enhancements and coaching).

Fall down: Accidents can happen. What matters most is what do you do after you fall. Pick yourself up, of course! Yet, there are those who do not full recover from having fallen. Pick yourself up, and learn from your mistakes. I have fallen off my bike many times, and each time I learn to ride safely and not take unnecessary risk. In my last accident in March, I deliberately fell to avoid running my bicycle wheels over a fallen rider. If I did not hit the road, I would have cracked his ribs rolling over him, and perhaps risked injuring myself more. Yes, it hurt! However, better me than another person. Martial artistes learn how to break fall, so as to protect themselves from injury. Accept mistakes (of your team), as these are part of the learning process. We make mistakes as leaders, don’t we?

Fall out: My friend, John Cooke (based in Perth, Australia) recently participated in the Painathon – grueling long distance run held over 10 different hills. He dropped out after the eighth hill. However, there was no shame as John covered a considerable distance and is recovering from flu and an Ironman triathlon he completed about five weeks ago. Kudos to him for even attempting this challenging course! Read more about his unique experience at his blog (

Fall-out: When your job is done, it is time to fall out. The parade falls out after completing its march-past [We had one of the best parades this year, at our 44th National Day]. In times of conflict, people can have a falling out. Arguments and arguing can lead to disagreement and emotional responses that create prejudices and discrimination. Be mindful of people’s sensitivities, their values and beliefs. We cannot violate or trespass them, for it can cause us to appear unreasonable and domineering.

Fall for: We can fall for someone, or we can we fall in love with a new idea or hobby. Beware of falling in love with your own idea, as it makes us narrow-minded. Being passionate about your profession, cause and your people can be very useful. Renowned photojournalist, Dewitt Jones describes passion as ‘falling in love with the world.’

Leadership Lessons: Consider taking up different leadership directions and orientations. Each decision you take can determine a different outcome. The next time, should you fall down – ask what you can learn, and apply the next time.

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