For any card-carrying member of the high achiever club, laziness is unthinkable. It’s not in our vocabulary or our DNA. But perhaps it should be. I am surprised to find myself proclaiming the merits of laziness.
In almost 15 years of doing circus sports, I’ve noticed that circus tends to attract perfectionist, overachiever personalities. We can often be self-critical.
Flying trapeze and trampoline are sports where progress is often measured in inches, and we work extremely hard for each inch. We want to know what more we can do.
Laziness is not in the vocabulary of most circus athletes I know.
And yet that was today’s lesson. Ok, the lesson wasn’t exactly “be lazy.” But it was close.
One instruction my coach gives me and others on a regular basis is to “ride the trampoline.” The goal is to get out of the trampoline what we put in.
The lesson is to allow the tools and structures to do their job.
Working Too Hard Can Work Against You
The general concept is that we can sabotage our efforts by doing too much, or by doing an action out of rhythm with the trampoline. This not only undermines the work we’ve already done, it could also set us back.
In my front tucks and back tucks, my bad habit is to bounce high, then in the bounce just before I initiate the trick I cut off the bounce and I throw down my upper body before I’m fully off the bed. I destroy the height I just built and I have to work harder to initiate rotation and make it around.
Instead, I should be allowing the trampoline to rebound me and I should ride it up more before initiating rotation.
The concept is familiar to me. This pattern shows up in my flying trapeze practice. In my attempts to add more “power” to my swing and generate height, I often bend my legs. This kills my height and makes tricks more difficult.
Learning to Be Lazy
To a high achiever, “do less” feels like laziness. And lazy may be a strong word. To be clear, this is not about indulgent laziness.
Think of it as “focused undoing.”
Riding the trampoline gives me more time and more space to execute the trick. I don’t need to rush my rotation. There’s a greater sense of calm while I’m rotating in the air.
In my swing, I am more effective when I do less and keep my form.
The key to building height in the swing on flying trapeze is to add energy at the right time. Riding the trampoline is about putting energy in and allowing that energy to work for me.
Both are about getting a Return on Energy.
Laziness Isn’t Lazy
This “doing less” isn’t easy. On the trapeze, maintaining form requires intense focus and subtle body awareness. Riding the trampoline requires patience and discipline not to rush.
Circus sports are as intense mentally as they are physically.
Today’s lesson from my trampoline coach reminds me of a principle I learned from my yoga mentor:
Activate where necessary. Relax where possible.
This is the challenge and the practice.
How Does This Apply to Your Life?
This is the part where I generally tell you how what I learned applies to life and business.
I discussed this topic in more detail in today’s episode of My Circus Life, and offered several examples.
You can watch the replay at the link below.
My Circus Life Episode 74: The Merits of Laziness
Following my own advice, I’m going to be a little lazy. Instead of giving you the answers, here are some inquiries to help spark your ideas.
- Where are you sabotaging your efforts by doing too much?
- Where can you be “lazy” through an intentional and focused undoing?
- In the context of your life or business, what would it look like to do less and focus more on your form?
- How can you increase your Return on Energy that you put in to various activities in your life and business?
- Where is it necessary for you to activate, and where can you relax?
I invite you to meditate on them, use them as prompts for your weekly or daily review, or in whatever regular reflection ritual you have for yourself. I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments.