I go to a hot yoga class six or seven days a week. Not because I love it, because I would never put the word “love” together with that kind of heat. And it is hard work. But I do love how I feel afterwards—strong, and confident, and able. And, too, I don’t ache like it did back when I ran millions of miles—that was me, the feeble and never-blossomed marathoner.
So I’m all in on the hot yoga thing. The past couple years, I’ve even gotten a little playful with it. A little gymnastic-y. Which makes me feel fancy, and kind of legit.
This morning, I fell into a nice rhythm, sneaking in a couple of great handstands and headstands. I was sweating from every pore, cleansing my toxins; I was looking toward a good day. I felt like a badass. A badass in charge of stuff. I felt good.
Then, the teacher directed us into a pose that naturally led to a headstand. Legs gracefully in the air, I did a couple of curls and turns (fancy me, right?), and then—whoops—I wobbled a bit. No big thing, I thought. My mat was near a wall, right? —So I’d just tap on it and get back upright again. You have the wall. Tilt toward the wall. Reach. Toes. Reach. Reach--?
And then: Oh, no. You were working from the back of the mat, you dolt. You forgot where you were. There’s no wall.
I floundered and fumbled, legs all flopping and flailing, down down down, and then: Splat. Flat on my back. Loudly. It sounded like a sweaty, middle-aged body crashing to the floor, which of course is exactly what it was.
I scrambled up and around, excusing and apologizing, saying something about a wall, and there was awkward laughter from the other (heretofore stoic) faces in the room, and the teacher asked if I was okay, and everyone was all ha, ha, ha. And then, blessedly, everyone went back to business, serious and focused as before. Upright again in body and mind, I closed my eyes, marveling at the speed with which my confidence had turned into a clumsy fall, and how quickly I’d gone from feeling like a ballerina to a one-legged goat.
I thought about it as I went through my day—about being confident and still having humiliating, inevitable crashes. Confidence is, after all, a funny thing. Leaders need confidence. We’re weak and untrustworthy without it. People need to know we can stand up and be freakin’ awesome. But the minute we think we’ve really got it—that we’ve mastered it—that we're done—our confidence may splat itself into bits on the floor.
Each time we splat, we need to get up again. That's the secret: Get back into the pose, the groove, the rhythm. Avoid pouting or feeling downtrodden along the way; just accept the collapses and move on. If we plan on the wall, and there’s no wall, well, then, there’s no wall. Reaching for it won’t do a bit of good. Fall... and stand up again. That's all.