My Circus Life is a weekly livestream in which I break down a lesson I learned in my deep play on flying trapeze and trampoline and share how it applies to life outside the circus tent. Today’s episode was about the challenge of merging two crucial skills that seem to be at odds. On both the trampoline and in life, merging these skills is what helps us soar to greater heights.
The Two Crucial Skills
(1) Driving to Initiate Power
One skill I’m constantly working on in trampoline practice is the “crescendo” in my bounces going into the trick. The idea is that I start low and gradually crescendo into a higher bounce going into the trick.
On the bounce immediately leading into the trick, you want to add an extra burst of energy — we call this “driving” into the trampoline bed — so that it propels you with more force and height for your trick.
Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. DRIVE into the bed. Propel off the trampoline. Do your trick.
So far, simple enough. Right? Start low, build higher, then a sudden burst of energy to propel you into a front tuck, or a back tuck, or some other trick.
Of course, that’s not my only area of focus.
(2) Cultivating Patience to Generate Height
On the trampoline, you want height. More time in the air makes it easier to do your trick because you have more time. To get that height, requires patience. I must allow the trampoline to push me further up into the air before I begin to rotate or twist. My coach is constantly reminding me to “let it ride” — i.e., wait longer before I initiate my trick.
Patience may look like the absence of drive, but it is its own skill. For me, it has always been the more challenging skill to master.
The Challenge: Intensity + Patience At the Same Time
Every skill on the trampoline requires walking the line between these two skills, doing them both at the same time.
When I focus on putting in the burst of energy to drive my final bounce, I tend to rush into the trick. Instead of twisting my body in the air, I’m trying to twist off the bed. Instead of initiating a rotation at the top of the bounce, I’m trying to do it at the bottom. Rushing into a trick can cause you to get stuck, or can result in injury. Even where I get the result I’m after, I sacrifice height to do so.
Rushing makes it harder to complete the trick.It wastes all the energy and momentum that I just spent time building up.
When I focus on having patience to “let it ride,” my bounces tend to be “softer” and less aggressive. I don’t keep my body as tight as I should. This means I often go into it with less height, and I don’t set myself up well to build onto the trick by adding another one.
My challenge — and my practice — in every training session is to drive into my bounce with the intense, focused energy that will generate height and have the patience to ride that energy up off of the trampoline bed into the trick.
This is a constant area of practice for me on the trampoline and in my life and work.
The Dance of Shifting Energy
Trampoline requires a constant shifting between intensity and patience:
Drive into the trampoline with intense energy.
Patience as you let it ride up, receiving that energy back from the trampoline.
Aggressively initiate rotation or twist into the trick.
Release as you land back on the trampoline bed.
Giving and receiving. Hustle and flow. Closed and open. This is the dance of the masculine and feminine energies.
This is the dance of life.
The Skill of Peak Performance
When we speak about peak performance, productivity, and achievement, the implication is that this comes only from high intensity. We are drivers and strivers, worshipping at the altar of the “hustle” (despite the pejorative origins of that term).
We tend to equate slowness with laziness, and softness with weakness.
Every sales training I’ve ever been through has drilled the need for persistence; none has taught the importance of patience. You need both.
To optimize and maximize our results and sustain peak performance in any area requires the skill of working with these energies in their right timing and proportions. Sometimes it’s a carefully choreographed dance; other times it’s a merging of one into the other.
Inject a full burst of power into the trampoline, and cultivate the patience to receive that energy back. Infuse your ride with the same energy that you put into your drive.
That’s how you soar to great heights. On the trampoline, and in life.