matt grant

stumble, don't fall

When you go to put your foot down and the surface isn’t quite what your body was expecting, you stumble.

There’s a brief moment of imbalance before you catch yourself, and then you carry on.

The mechanism is a fascinating example of your body’s survival instinct.

As you place your foot, the intention is that you’ll place all of your weight on it. But your body recognises, when the surface isn’t what it thought it was, that that probably isn’t such a good idea.

So it stops you doing it.

You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to tell it to. It just does it.

It protects itself.

It makes a small mistake to stop itself from making a bigger one.

Given a perfectly uniform surface, we would probably never stumble. Over time our body would get used to it. And then when a deviation did come along, the response wouldn’t be there and the result would be far more serious. We might do some real damage.

We can apply this same process to our behaviour in general.

Small variations in our environment are beneficial. They keep us working. They keep us adapting. They keep us learning.

We can make little mistakes and still survive.

But given an absence of variability, we get complacent. We think we can predict what’s coming next.

And when it isn’t what we anticipated, we’re in trouble.

Stumble, so you don’t fall.