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that is the point of the arrow

June 30, 2015


There is a moment when it feels like the point of the arrow might pierce your skin, that if you push any harder against it it will break through into the soft hollow at the base of your throat. Instinctively you pull back just a little and you start thinking that you cannot do it.

After all, that is the point of the arrow isn’t it?  To penetrate, to get inside your outer defences, to cause harm?

I have one stuck to the bottom of the screen here on my desk. A broken arrow. Just the shaft and feathers.

There is no point to it. I broke it off one night using only the soft hollow at the base of my throat.

Watching other people succeed in breaking the arrow and listening to their advice on how to approach this particular challenge doesn’t really help. There are even videos showing them doing it, but that doesn’t really show you how to do it.

Because the point of the arrow is there to ensure it gets inside you.

Even before the shiny metal point touches your skin it gets inside your head and starts telling you all that could go wrong. The sensible thing is clearly not to push forward, not to expose the soft parts of you, to avoid damage, to avoid being harmed.

But if you sit with the possibility for a while you start to notice things, things that you didn’t see. The failed attempts that didn’t make it on to YouTube because … well because nobody wants to watch other people not succeeding.

There is no joy in watching someone fail repeatedly. We are conditioned to find no inspiration in seeing the look of fear cross their face as the pressure on their throat increases. (Think about that, no inspiration from people who are prepared to face up to their fears!)

There are always failed attempts. I know because I was there. I saw the fear. Fear that the experience would leave them hurt and bleeding. What they knew, the ones who eventually succeeded, was that if we don’t fail we cannot learn and that failing doesn’t always harm us (though it rarely feels good).

If we don’t step into spaces that scare us we will not grow. And that will do us more harm than good.

That is the point of the arrow.


It goes without saying (though I am going to) – don’t try this at home. The experience I described in this post was conducted in a controlled and supervised environment. This post encourages you to use the process only as a metaphor!

That said, if you would like me to come and share with you and your team the insights that come from the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

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