We've just spent the weekend surfing at Saunton in North Devon. Blue skies and clean waves were conspicuously absent but we did have a lot of fun. I've never been board surfing before and I've got a new found respect for those who make it look so effortless and easy.
Returning home on Sunday night I realised I was covered in bruises. There is the one on my back from falling off the board into 4 inches of water after I misjudged how far ashore I had come. I've got one one around my left ankle where my leash pulled tight after I let go of my board while wading out. The one on my chin is the most visible, casued by throwing myself forward onto my board with a little too much vigour.
They might make me a little bit sore but I am proud of my bruises. Really proud. They are like little campaign medals and, to me they represent two things.
The first is the fact that I was learning a new skill. Learning any new physical skill normally results in bruising, aching or stiffness. Is there anyone who has never used the phrase "I've discovered muscles I didn't know I had"? These aches and pains tell us we are moving outside our comfort zone and, quite literally, stretching ourselves.
The second thing that bruises represent is commitment. We all fell off our boards a lot in the surf. However we kept getting back on them, like the adage about falling off a horse. The bruises provide useful feedback that what we did last time didn't work, so try something else.
Bruises tell you that you are making mistakes, they represent failed attempts at something. However, a core belief of experiential learning is that, if we are open minded, we learn as much from our mistakes as we do from success. So, with the right attitude, bruises are badges of learning.
Of course, nobody likes getting hurt but you can bruise plenty of other things than your body. Your ego, your confidence, your cashflow, your reputation, your business plan. The good news is, like your body, all these things heal and with a bit of luck, you will be wiser as a result.
So, what have you bruised recently?