Last night I watched a women's figure skating competition. Seeing the best of the best do their best is quite an experience. These women are enchanting as they glide along the ice and spin their bodies in ways I can't even fathom. As one who cannot so much as ice skate around an ice rink without falling, I am in awe of those who make it look so effortless.

These are the best of the best, and they still fallAs I saw these women perform, it struck me that I was sitting on the edge of my seat, nervous for the contestant. I don't even know who is performing. I have no favorites and couldn't even give you a name of a single competitor. But that is not the point. No matter who is on the ice, I want that person to do their best. And I fear with every leap and jump that they might just not land that perfect landing that they need.

As I watched some impressive tricks, every so often a skater would fall. At times they would just wobble or touch their hand to the ice, catching themselves and correcting. Other times they flat out fell, skidding before they could stabilize. But no matter how hard the fall, the same thing would always happen.

They would get right back up.

I can't imagine the disappointment of that fall, the realization that it could cost them the competition. After years of endless training and work, to fall on a trick that was done hundreds of times previously, must be jarring. And they don't suffer alone. Nor in silence. When they fall, the entire crowd reacts. The "oohhhs" can be heard in unison as thousands shake their heads back and forth, realizing their contestant may just have lost due to this error.

And yet, they get right back up. And they keep skating.

No matter what that fall might mean for the overall score, if physically able, the skater will return to the routine. And even though the magnitude of the error might be palpable, if you look at the skater, there is a grin and feigned confidence as she finishes the routine, finishes what she started.

These are the best of the best. And they still fall. The difference is that they get back up. For they never would have acquired that new trick or that new move if not for failing and learning from that mistake.

But there is an even greater lesson here. When it comes to the scoring, it is not just about whether or not they fall. The routine might have been perfect, flawless, from beginning to end. Yet that is not enough to win first place. The judges are looking for something more. They want originality, they want personality. And most of all…they want to see risk.

It is not impressive to do a routine that is safe. Landing a safe routine perfectly is expected. If lots of people can do what they are doing, there is no point. After all, if they are the best, they better prove that.

It is not impressive to do a routine that is safeThe judges want these skaters to try something new. To attempt a move or jump that has not been done before. That is what is going to make the skater stand out. That is what will win first place. Will the chances of a fall skyrocket if the trick is that much harder and less known? Of course. That is the point. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

So too in life. We all fall. But the trick is how long it takes us to get back up. And more than that, when we do, do we continue what we were doing? Do we go forward in our direction? Do we do it with a smile on our face? Or do we walk right off that rink, convinced we will never succeed and knowing we just blew it?

For me, watching top competitors is not about who will win. But rather, it is a reminder of the talents we were all innately born with and the abilities we all have. I will never compete in sports as that is not what I was born to do. Yet I am inspired by these athletes in my life and mission. The same way they practice, they train and they dedicate their lives to their talents, I too hope I can stay focused and on target with my goals. So as I watch these skaters jump and spin and glide, I am witness to the process of growth and development. And even knowing that falling is part of the process, I still hold my breath and hope they don't!