Get ready for an overload of metaphors. This whole blog is a giant metaphor for business as far as I see it, with lots of lessons and smaller metaphors along the way. Hold on tight (I was)!
So I need to clarify what I am going to write about... it's about my circus skills (or lack thereof). It's about me 'learning' the Trapeze.
Yes that's right, guffaw all you like but this was not just a lesson in how to land (sit back unless you want a nasty safety net rope burn btw - big ouch) but how to have courage, climb a big mountain (ladder) and lean into something that at the time made no sense...
So here's how I see it.. To start with the idea has to be there.
And for that I 'blame' one of my business mentors Bernadette Doyle - she planted the seed of Trapeze!
She's spoken many times about how the Trapeze is the perfect example of taking a leap in business to move forward, and that there's often a moment of being 'between the trapezes' when you stop doing what you're doing now (whether that's a job or the focus of your business at the time) and you take a leap of faith into the 'new' (having your own business or changing what it is that you do).
So there I was with a day to myself in Santa Monica, LA on my recent trip there and I thought, I know, I'll go for a stroll along the beach and then head to the shops. And at the back of my mind I remembered that this was where there might be a Trapeze school (as Bernadette has said she'd done this while in LA at the beach...).
Don't ask me why I wanted to do this by the way as it still scares me to think about it now and I've done it! So I stroll along the beach... no Trapeze school. Phew. Momentary sigh of relief as now I have an excuse not to have pushed myself to do something 'out of my comfort zone' (so this would be like not going to a networking meeting, or not calling people on your list, or not speaking at an event... even though you know it will help you move your business forward you have an excuse, right?). No chance for me. I get halfway up Santa Monica pier and there's the bl**dy Trapeze school. Damn it. I have to do it now.
But of course I don't rush in and sign up right away. Oh no, I have to 'watch' for a bit, go in and 'ask about' the lessons, procrastinate, have a chat with myself in my head (never a good idea to get conscious brain involved in this type of decision making), and then, finally, and frankly quite boldly, say 'OK I'm doing it' and hand over my $.
So this is like in business when you know you should be signing up with a coach or mentor, or investing in a new website, or working with an expert who can propel you forward, or hiring an assistant or other staff member, ANYTHING you know you've already decided to do but are 'thinking about'. And this metaphor gets worse at the top of the ladder so wait for it...
Dollars paid, huge waiver form initialed, I make my way over to the instructors. Now by luck (!) I have timed my visit for when the instructors have just finished a group lesson and they have some time to teach me by myself. Now you'd think I'd be delighted with this kind of personal attention but actually, I'm not that overjoyed! :) I could do with some support and camaraderie at this point (cue understanding why business masterminds and group coaching are actually often better than one to one). So... I take what the Universe has dealt me (technically a great hand, but I don't see it!) and try and pay attention.
Now here was another great lesson I realised in hindsight. I'd just handed over my money for something I actually wanted to do, but I was still quite scared about, so I didn't pay a lot of attention. I could see the instructor making shapes with his body, pointing at harnesses and ropes, and I took in about 10% of what he was saying. The other 90% of the time... I was thinking "OMG what have I done. It's very high up there. That ladder looks rickety. I'm on my own and this might not have been such a good plan. Why exactly am I doing this. I could be at the shops. I need a drink. Wow it's really really high up there." You get the picture! And this can happen in business too. You sign up for a mentor, a programme, invest in a new website, buy new systems or software, hire a team member and you can (or maybe its just me) go into panic mode. But don't.
I'd decided I was going to do this Trapeze so I calmly told the instructor, thank you but I only got a small percentage of what you just said, so please just tell me what I need to know as I need to do it. Note to self moment again - remember it can be overwhelming to clients to do something brand new, so expect that feeling and make sure there are action steps all along the way. Sometimes its enough to just know the next step of what to do than share it all at once.
So up the ladder I go. And as with every ladder it's always a lot higher up there than it looks from the ground. And that's just like running a business too, never quite as easy (or less involved) that it might look! I get to the top relatively nonplussed. I am not super scared of heights, just of falling... which doesn't help with what I have to do next.
Now I am being asked to lean. Lean out FAR from a tiny platform at frankly a precarious angle and one that my brain is refusing to compute as safe. It's clearly not safe. And no amount of coaching, coaxing, explaining and "don't worry I have you" are going to convince me otherwise.
But like most things in life, if you look hard enough, there's another way: we go for the less stylish but gets results approach (and nothing wrong with that in Trapeze or business by the way). So yes I did need the other instructor to come up and grab the Trapeze for me, and yes I was being clung to while I leaned out, but it's still not easy!
Then came the best lesson of all: To hang on right before you're going to fly is painful.
The longer you hang on to that Trapeze in an uncomfortable and brain confusing position the more it hurts. And once you're leaning out off that platform gripping the Trapeze there is pretty much only one thing to do... LEAP & FLY
So I flew. And yes, of course it was amazing. And wow yes I loved it.
But then I had to get down. Now I'd forgotten to think this far ahead (always have an exit strategy...or at least know the next step you need to take is the lesson here!). So now its brain confusion time again - where to let go and lean backwards don't make a whole lot of sense (cue less than stylish landing in safety net!). And even from the safety net you're not actually back 'on the ground'. Next up you have to somersault/forward roll off the side of the net.
By the time I get off I'm done. Euphoric but spent.
Ah, but I'd booked more than one swing...
So just like in business, you can't rest on your laurels and think that one small result is all you'll ever have to achieve. Now, you have to do it again. Climb the ladder again. Lean off the platform again. Take the leap again. Let go (and land badly sometimes!) again.
But I did it. I didn't give up. I had courage. I even got better (last landing was almost painless!).
And as you can see, when you act on your intuition, and you do what you've been thinking about, and really want to do (even if you don't quite know why!) it can be quite amazing...
Am sure I could make a reference now to stepping into the Business Celebrity you know you already are... but I won't ruin the moment... :) If you want to though... you know what to do.
Moral of the story - just grab the bl**dy trapeze and fly. Honestly. It's worth it. Even if you shake a bit afterwards!
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