After a week off for Passover, I was back to my weekly Saturday trampoline practice yesterday, and a new episode of My Circus Life. This is the synopsis of Episode 79: How to Avoid Getting Stuck.
In every flying trapeze practice, when I stand on the platform preparing to take a trick across to the catcher, my coach on the ground reminds me: do your job.
He gives the same reminder to everyone. When the catcher is hanging on the other side, it’s common to forget about all that we need to do before the point where we meet the catcher in the air.
The problem is that if we don’t focus on doing what we need to do, we won’t be in position to meet the catcher for the catch.
In my early years of flying, I would regularly get so flustered by the presence of the catcher that I would rush my timing. Timing in trapeze is essential: you’re fighting gravity. You must time your moves to leverage the moments when you’re weightless. If you rush, getting into the position becomes impossible, and you won’t make the catch.
The same lesson shows up in trampoline: when you anticipate the trick, you don’t do the trick well. You have to focus on one part at a time, and not get ahead of yourself.
In trampoline and on the trapeze, trying to look for the landing often causes us to execute moves at the wrong time. The right move at the wrong time can throw your body out of alignment and cause you to get stuck. It inhibits flow.
The Biggest Block to Productivity is Fear
You may know that fear can manifest as procrastination. It also drives the urgency to get everything done at once.
On the trampoline, I might try to look for the landing early because I’m afraid of getting injured physically. In a trapeze trick, I might try to rush because I’m afraid of not getting into my trick.
In both cases, the thing I’m doing to prevent the result I fear will cause the result I fear.
In life and business, we often fear that if we don’t respond to things right away, we will lose opportunity.
The Mindset That Powers Everything
The lesson I learn repeatedly in trapeze and trampoline is about the power of presence.
My trampoline and trapeze coaches regularly remind me to focus on the first part of a trick before thinking about the next part.
If you don’t focus on where you are, you won’t get to where you’re going.
The Power of Presence
When I created my fitness first rule, I applied this concept to remind me to focus on where I am and what I need to do to get out of my apartment and to the gym.
When I speak to real estate agents and other service professionals about productivity, they often question my rule about staying off of email and social media until at least noon.
They want tips and hacks to respond faster, and do more in less time.
They often miss the point that this is the hack.
Time and again, I’ve learned that presence is the key to productivity.
No factor has a greater impact.
This is the mindset at the heart of my morning routine, and it powers the rest of my day.
I may not respond the fastest, but my response is more effective. And I get more important things done in a few hours of uninterrupted deep work time than most people do in a day.
Presence Requires Trust
Presence is hard. We’re conditioned to believe that multi-tasking is productive, and it often becomes a habit.
Studies show that multi-tasking doesn’t really exist; what’s actually happening is that our brain is switching tasks, which is very inefficient.
Beyond the difficulty of breaking the bad habit of multitasking, presence is hard because presence requires trust.
When you trust that your system will support you, you can focus on the present moment.
In trampoline and trapeze, I trust that the lafety lines will support me. Eventually I learn to trust the mechanics of the skills and that my body can execute them. That’s when I can remove the safety lines.
The same applies in life and work.
The secret to sustainable productivity and to creating outstanding results is to create structures and systems that support your work. You need a process that will get you to your outcome. And once you have it, you must trust it.
If you’re worried about things falling through the cracks, you won’t be present to what you’re doing.
When you trust that your system will work, you can be fully present to the task or person in front of you.
Productivity requires presence.
Presence requires trust.
Try it out this week and let me know it works for you.