How to Recover After You've Lost Your Balance

I was leading a management workshop one day when suddenly a huge TV fell on my head.

Tightrope walker
Getty Images
Tightrope walker

It didn't just fall out of nowhere. The TV was on a tall stand, which I was moving to the side when the whole thing tipped over. Not to brag, but usually you have to be about 8 years old to pull off this trick.

The TV was heavy and knocked me to the floor. The workshop stopped for a few minutes while I dusted myself off. I felt embarrassed.

"Large objects," I remember thinking, "should never fall on your head in the middle of a workshop."

Oh well. It's easy to lose your balance—in presenting, and in life.

When presenting, some people twist themselves into a pretzel. That's not a good look—too unstable.

(Instead: stand with your feet shoulder-length apart, and your weight equally balanced. Breathe from your belly. Also, if possible, avoid head wounds.)

But even the pros fall.

Top fashion model, Jessica Stam, tripped while walking down a Paris runway. "I fell and got back up," she told the Wall Street Journal. "It happens, and it's no big deal."

Franklin Roosevelt, paralyzed from the waist down since age 39, fell while being helped to the stage at the 1936 Democratic Convention. The papers of his speech went flying.

"Clean me up," he told his aides, "and keep your feet off those damned sheets" (from "FDR," by Jean Edward Smith).

Moments later, Roosevelt was at the podium, telling a live audience of 100,000 that they had "a rendezvous with destiny."

Most hadn't noticed his stumble.

Tip: Life knocks you down. We all know that. The call is to get back up.

Best wishes for 2012—and the challenges, known and unknown, that await.

Consultant, author, speaker, and founder of express potential® (, Paul Hellman has worked with CEOs, executives, and managers at leading companies for over 25 years to improve performance and productivity at work. His latest book is “Naked at Work: How to Stay Sane When Your Job Drives You Crazy,” and his columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and other leading papers.

Comments? Send them to