In flying trapeze, the ultimate outcome is to build a higher swing. A higher swing means you can do bigger tricks. The more height a flyer has when coming off the trapeze bar, the more time she has in the air to do multiple twists and flips before landing in the arms of the catcher or hitting the net.
Like golfers, trapeze artists are always working on their swing. One crucial factor in a strong swing is to keep your legs straight.
I have a bad habit of bending my knees.
I tend to do this most when I’m trying to generate power and height, even though I know that the power in the swing comes from keeping my legs straight.
Power Down to Power Up
Using less “power,” but keeping my legs straight, is actually more powerful — more effective — in building height.
Of course, knowing and doing are not the same thing. It’s harder to break a habit than to create a habit.
I am determined to break the habit of bending my knees in my swing.
The only time I come close to swinging with straight legs is when I do my warm-up swing at the start of each practice. That tells me that the place to start is with stripping away the “power” and practicing my warm-up swing while keeping my focus on straight legs.
At least once a year I do this for a few practices. I get some minor improvement, but then it’s back to bending my knees.
Old habits die hard.
Last night, in a tent that was 95-degrees inside (hotter than the air temperature outside), felt like a good time to work on this drill. For the first time in 15 years of flying, I managed to get my body behind the bar without breaking (too much) at the knees.
Here’s a screenshot from a video (this is from a video of the television screen we use for video review, so it’s a little fuzzy):
Maybe it was the heat. Who knows?
It was a milestone moment.
As I walked through to the subway in the “cool” evening air (it was 90-degrees, but cooler than the circus tent), I reflected on my baby step of progress and how, once again, the theme of creation and destruction had shown up.
The Cycle of Creation and Destruction
To create a stronger and higher swing I have to remove the power and strip it down to the basics.
This is how life works in every area.
When something is not working, the best way to fix it is to strip it down and focus on the fundamentals. Focusing on the fundamentals helps us rebuild more effectively.
It’s pretty simple, if you’re willing to do it. What makes it complicated is the ego.
3 Fears That Keep Us From Letting Go
There are 3 major fears that keep us from letting go, even when we know it’s time to destroy something.
(1) Fear of Loss
Loss aversion can trick us into holding onto something beyond its time. We often fear letting go of or destroying something, even when we know it’s not working. A home. A relationship. A business. A job.
How can you leave it? What about everything you built?
This is a question that people ask from a place of fear.
If “everything you built” isn’t working, then what have you really built?
If you actually built what you have now, then you know how to rebuild it. If you didn’t built it yourself, then you can get help building it in a way that will make it work.
(2) Fear of Falling Behind
We might fear that tearing something down to rebuild it will cause us to “fall behind” our peers or behind where we “should” be at this stage in our lives.
One thing I love about flying trapeze is that it’s an individual sport practiced in a group setting. A class accommodates 10 people. Each of us is progressing at our own pace. We learn from each other and support each other. But there is no “behind” or “ahead.”
Each of us travels our own path. And there is no “should” on the path, because the path is not linear. It ebbs and flows. As you make progress in one thing, you have to fix other things to keep them aligned. This is a sport of 3 steps backward to take one step forward. Often, that step forward is a baby step.
This is how life works.
In real life, learning is not binary. You don’t check things off and move on. You often relearn things from different perspectives and in different ways. Progress happens in cycles, not in straight line graphs.
(3) Fear of Quitting
We live in a culture that conditions us to believe that successful people don’t quit. Pulling back feels like giving in. It feels like admitting defeat. It feels like failure.
If you want to build a taller building, you have to knock down what’s there and excavate before you build again. This creates a stronger foundation.
To build a higher swing requires stripping it back and focusing on the fundamentals.
This is true in every area of life.
Most people never reach their potential, never build what’s truly possible, because they are afraid to give up what they have. They are afraid to give up their status, their comforts, their lifestyle, for the chance at creating something even more spectacular.
Regression is the First Step to Progress
It’s the ultimate wisdom to understand that creation emerges from destruction.
This is literally the first rule of the universe: order emerges from chaos. Give up to gain. Let go to receive. You must step backwards to move forward.
Regression is not a prelude to progress; it’s the first step of progress.