Fall Like a Human

He fell. He fell hard.

This someone might have been a largely popular teacher of one of North America’s fastest growing schools of Hatha yoga. But it wasn’t so much a physical fall as it was an ethical spill, if you will. Actually, it seems he may have face planted straight into a sidewalk made of morals. My hope is that he’s currently in the intensive care unit of his own consciousness, retreating to treat the root cause of the spill.

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Here’s something I found interesting: 

It didn’t surprise me.

Not because I expected this of him by any means. I just understood that he was human and human’s make mistakes. Even though I had often seen him on a stage positioned higher than others, I knew better than to hold him on a pedestal and expect perfection. I knew better than to call him “guru.” I knew he was smart and created a brilliant method that I would fall in love with and use to help others, but somehow I knew not to fall in love with the man himself. It’s the method that stole my heart and changed my life. It’s the method that continues to change the lives of my students.

What did surprise me however, is some of the reactions from the Kula (community in Sanskrit). It’s the Kula that I held in high regard thinking if anyone would know how to deal with this gracefully, the yoga Kula would. I stood confidently, watching and waiting for the storm to reside and the dust to settle in new places. Just as my yoga taught me to, I paused. I breathed.

But a new storm took force, one that I didn’t expect. Some 'yogi’s’ came forward, lacking information yet full of judgement and anger - it started to look like a crucifixion. Now this gossip has taken over my Facebook and Twitter feeds and in turn, my head. 

I can’t stop thinking about it.

So what went wrong? Why are so many people shocked, surprised and down right hurt by learning he screwed up? 

High expectations can be poison. When we expect something great and it doesn’t turn out great, we’re disappointed. Expect perfection or anything close, and you won’t get it. Expect a God-like performance by a human and it’s bound to fail. Expect a perfect teacher and you won’t find it. Expect a perfect Kula… I can’t find it either.

I’ve started to wonder if our leadership expectations have been set by prior stories of leaders such as Jesus and Buddha. (I’m by no means comparing this yoga teacher to either Jesus or Buddha, I’m comparing the position as a leader.) There are very few stories about how these previous leaders made human mistakes, yet, they were both clearly human and with humanity, comes imperfection. It seems only the best, “God-like” stories survive and are shared most often. It’s our habit to create an idol out of someone who’s candor and brilliance wow’s us, but that idol and model of leadership is imperfect and always will be.

Perfect imperfection.  

We needed this. I needed this.

The teacher is completely and utterly perfect in his imperfections. As a leader, his fall is a lesson for anyone listening: it’s a reminder of what it means to be human. My envisioned perfect Kula, revealed to me as no longer perfect, is also made of humans. 

Revealed is another word that makes my head spin around this topic: should our private lives really be so public? I’m not sure, but I do know that if I’m telling the truth in all aspects of my life, it wouldn’t matter if people knew everything about me. In an effort to always be upfront and open I can’t think of anything I have to hide from my students… or anyone for that matter. Nothing needs to be secretive, for me. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect - I just have nothing to hide. Sure, some things I might find embarrassing, but they’re no secret.

My guess is that we’re still trying to ethically catch up with the technology of the Internet and what it means to have our personal lives reflected in our public lives. With everything public it’s clearly revealed that we all make mistakes. Moving on from that fact, can we learn to embrace our mistakes as part of the gift of being human? The gift of our life? 

…the humanexperience is the point of having been born human. You are the point the universe has decided to make. Own that experience, receive that as the gift, never stop wanting to become more human: that is divine.” Douglas Brooks

There’s a whole lot more to this, but for now, I’m still working the rest out in my head.