I turned 40 earlier this year. To commemorate the occasion I’m doing a series of posts highlighting valuable lessons I’ve learned in my time on this planet.

“Gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed saepe cadendo.” ~ Latin proverb (“A drop of water hollows out rock, not by force but by falling often.”)

Nerd confession: I loved high school Latin. Maybe it was the blending of history with the study of language. Maybe it was the Roman mythology we would read to reinforce our fledgling Latin skills. (If those stories were made into movies, every last one of them would be like the fight scenes in Lord of the Rings. Or better yet, 300.) If I were completely honest with myself, it was probably because of the ridiculous amount of paper football that got played during that class.

At any rate, that phrase above has stuck with me since high school Latin. I’ve learned that most successes don’t happen in one fell swoop. There are no overnight successes. To my knowledge, nobody has ever taken Nashville by storm. I know a lot who have tried, and I hear a lot of people talking about it. I wish them well. While I don’t know any overnight successes, I know a lot of ten year overnight successes.

The idea of a drop of water falling often has taken on even more meaning as I’ve grown older, to the point that lately I’ve added a new wrinkle to my understanding of it.  I used to think of “falling” just as more effort. I have now taken “falling” to mean just that. Falling down. Making mistakes. Failing.

Most of us make a couple of embarrassing mistakes in our youth and then spend the rest of our lives trying to avoid repeating them. Maybe we’ve got it all wrong. Maybe we need to fall more. As in, fail more.

Think about it:

  • The pole vaulter doesn’t know how high he can jump until he gets to a height where he fails.
  • The ice skater doesn’t nail a routine without falling. A lot.
  • Falling is not failing. Falling often is a force to be reckoned with.

Maybe we need to dream a little bigger, knowing that we will fall. And falling is a good thing.

Be a drop of water.

What area of your life have you played it too safe for fear of failure? (Don’t worry – I’m massively preaching to myself here!) What “rock” do you have that needs hollowed out? Share in the comments below.