Fall or Crawl?

Which way to go road sign

It’s something of a debate, but then, the authors of self-help books are generally so polite that they don’t actually argue the subject. But still, there is a big difference of opinion and for those of us who are serial readers of self-development books, it can cause some confusion

Fall or Crawl? 

The question is this: Do I leap into a new enterprise, a new life, a new direction? Or do I take baby steps? Do I throw myself into it whole hog, full bore, letting go of the old and jumping off the cliff, trusting I will figure out how to build wings on the way down (an analogy I stole from John Maxwell); or do I take small steps, tentative ones, that give me the ability to make changes and grow my confidence with each small step, but likely taking me a lot longer to get “there”?

Read one or two self-help books and you will likely find the same approach, fall or crawl, one or the other. But read a bunch of them and you will quickly find that that some authors will have you leaping into your dream, and others will have you taking baby steps, and it is easy to wonder what to do, how to go about it.

It can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. In the end, it all depends on YOUR personality, no the process. Either one works, but only one will work for you.

Falling Forward

Let’s start with flying. Leaping into the chasm. Going in full throttle. This is a high-risk, high reward way of doing it. If you choose to dive in the deep end, you have the very real probability that you will get to your goal faster. But you also have the very real possibility that it doesn’t work out and you crash and burn.

Are you good at figuring things out and making adjustments quickly? Are you comfortable with a lot of chaos along the way? Or maybe you even enjoy the exuberance of that chaos and speed of change and growth.

Are you a planner? Do you like to make a plan then leap into action? Can you adjust easily when things in the plan go kinda wonky?

How do you handle failure? Because sometimes despite all our enthusiasm and energy, when we fall, we don’t end up flying. We fall. Do you have a plan B? Are you good at getting up , brushing yourself off, and looking for the next cliff? Or does a failure haunt you and hold you back?

Falling forward (another John Maxwell phrase) is great. It gets you “there” faster. And even if you fail,  if you are the sort to brush yourself off and adjust  then go looking for the next leaping off point, you will still get there.

Are you the sort that needs instant gratification? Maybe falling forward is a good thing for you, but only if you handle setbacks well.

Step by step. 

Baby steps work for others. It is lower risk. Each step presents a small success or failure. By taking small steps, you don’t leave behind the safety net of where you are now. You inch into the canyon, There is more time to build your wings.

I won’t say it provides less reward than falling, because in the end, both ways get you there. But baby steps are less daunting, less threatening (if you are a worrier, this is important.). Each step gives you a chance for an affirmation of your success. And if there is a failure along the way, it is small, less debilitating.

For some, baby steps are frustrating. You don’t see the progress as dramatically. Baby steps take a certain discipline to keep at it. Are you someone who can work steadily not seeing the results right away?  Then baby steps might be a good fit.,

Part of the low risk nature of baby steps is that if something doesn’t work, it’s a small part of the proces, and it is easy to readjust without much damage to the process or our ego.

Both work. 

When I work with a client, I spend time early on learning about their personality. I let the personality guide how we do it. I have no preconceived notions of what works best.

In the end, you will have to choose one way. Be honest with yourself about who you are, and how you work. What keeps you going? How do you handle setbacks? How easily do you bounce back? How quickly do you adjust to challenges? Making the right choice of paths based on who you are doesn’t make the difference between success or failure, but they make a huge difference in how easily it comes, and how you enjoy (or don’t) the journey.

The two paths work for individuals, but surprising, it works for companies and organizations as well. When looking at change, consider your corporate culture, and most importantly, your leadership culture and pick the path that is true to your culture.

In a way, honesty in a corporate setting is even harder because we tend to mythologize who we are, thinking aspirationally rather than honestly.  But if you are a leader getting ready to institute change, self-honesty as you pick a path is every bit as important as it is for individuals. Maybe more so.

So choose one. Be honest with yourself. And then, enjoy the journey. Begin.

Be well. Travel wisely,



Considering a coach to help you to success? Looking for a consultant to help your organization market, develop new business processes, or build quality leaders? Let’s talk. I promise you will get value from our conversation, even if you don’t hire me.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s