Rodney Mullen is the godfather of street skateboarding. The foundation of virtually all modern skate tricks stem from his innovations; from the flatground ollie to the kickflip and 30 other tricks. Without Rodney Mullen, skating would not be skating.
Rodney, now in his early 50’s is not flashy or charismatic but soft-spoken and humble. He is sincere, full of genuity and when he builds to a point he often completes his conclusions with a question mark.
Rodney has branched out of skating and has become a bona fide philosopher. He speaks internationally at tech and academic conferences like Foo Camp and Ted Talks all over the world. He shares his insights about what he learned from his life in skating. Brain surgeons, scientists and professors from places like M.I.T. and Yale drink up his words and so should we.
The one very important attribute that all true skaters share is failure.
He said “…Falling is so integrated into us, a lot of people don’t fall as much as we do at every level…where falling becomes normal and picking yourself up again is normal and I think the kind of resilience skateboarders have is uncommon…Getting up again and again…it changes you.”
Finished products and achievements can enamor us but we forget that they all came about through failure after failure. The failure is where we need to focus, not the success.
There is a tendency to be afraid of failure rather than embrace it. I fail all the time and I can tell you that it can be such an exhilarating and emancipating feeling. Eventually, failure is wonderful.
More from Mullen-
“We individuate ourselves and then share it back…I take these [other] elements and I help form myself, to separate myself and give it back… then I feel more invested”
Skateboarders like successful tech companies reinvent themselves again and again. They reflect, plan and then re-inject themselves into their community and enhance it with what they learned.
A final nugget from Mullen:
“…Capacity to deal and cope with failure will be tested and how you deal with that makes the difference between good and great…The hardest part about skating is getting up again….until you actually make it if you stop one fall short of making it, then none of it matters…“
If you go through life always trying not to fail, you are limiting your success. Failing and getting up will build resolve and determination. Failure has unlocked so many things for me personally that I once thought were beyond my reach.
Inspiration is everywhere you just have to notice it. You can find it from a skater and from failure.
Fail and keep getting up.