I’ve been a student of flying trapeze for 18 years, but you won’t see me doing big tricks. I keep it fairly simple, and even that gets hard sometimes.
Trapeze is a sport of setbacks to make progress. I’ve had many phases in my “circus life” where I’ve lost skills — sometimes because of injury, or time away, or just because my body suddenly forgot how to do something it previously knew how to do.
Thanks to Simone Biles, I now know this is a real thing that happens to the most elite athletes. And I am able to find more self-compassion when it happens.
When it does happen, there is only one way back: retraining fundamentals.
I go back to basics.
Earlier this year, I spent 3 months focused only on drills. Skills and tricks that I had previously taken out of safety lines went back into safety lines while I rebuilt my muscle memory and my confidence.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve had to do this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
The same thing has happened with my trampoline training and in my other fitness activities. I’m not immune from setbacks just because I work out daily.
I used to be demoralized by this, thinking that something was wrong with me if I couldn’t maintain a skill or a certain pace or a certain weight load in the gym.
But I’ve learned that this is just a normal part of life. It’s the seasonality of learning and skill development.
Nature moves in cycles. When we realize that “losing” a skill is like the autumn leaves falling off a tree, we can rest in trust that our skill will return.
Everything comes back around in time.
So I go back to basics. Focus on fundamentals. Breaking down skills into their smallest component part, doing the drills, working on my form and position and all the little things.
Each time this happens, I build back the skill more quickly and better than before. The body remembers; it just needs a fine tuning.
This strategy holds across all areas of life. I have taken the same approach in my work and in my daily routines.
Whenever I get stuck, I return to the basics. I trace it back to the earliest place where something could have gone wrong, deconstruct the process, and begin building again.
What emerges is stronger because it’s built on the knowledge and experience I had from before.
Sometimes when we have been doing something for a while we forget why we’re doing it. A bonus of going back to basics is that we get to rediscover the fun in FUNdamentals.
We can reconnect with the purpose of why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place.
That can make the biggest difference of all.
whenever you’re stuck
return to fundamentals