What Strategies Can An Entrepreneur Learn From A Trapeze Artist?

Shannon Carlton

Recently, I went up to Tallahassee to see my daughter in college. It was such a fun weekend of hanging out with my girls. They are truly my treasure and the reason I went out on a limb as an entrepreneur. I wanted them to see their mom taking a bite out of life. I wanted them to see me fall and get back up again. I wanted them to be on this entrepreneur adventure with me.

I was thinking about that leap this weekend when we went to the FSU circus. This is a fun show performed by students, led by students and run by students. To that end, it was wonderful. If you have ever been to the circus you know there are many acts performed under the big top. And since this was an amateur performance there were several times during the show that the performers fell.

It’s inevitable that as entrepreneurs, we will fall. If we try anything new, in our business, we are going to fall. Maybe not fall from the sky, like the trapeze artists, or in front of hundreds of people but we will fall!

Doing a little research on the topic of the flying trapeze, I found that the first thing performers do is learn to FALL!! You know, the girls and I were wondering if they have to learn how not to fall, but you can’t really do that, can you?

As a performer, they have to know they will absolutely fall and the first thing they learn in training is how to fall safely. Even something like falling off a trapeze into a net requires serious prep. The net itself is pulled so tight that they could bounce out of the net or if they fall incorrectly they could break a bone. There is a serious-looking group of people under the net prepared to jump in and help if the performer gets into trouble. And off the scene are a dozen trained emergency response team.

And let’s not fail to mention all the rehearsing, all the time at the gym to prepare and watching youtube videos to learn the craft. Yet, still, they fall. And get back up and go again. One girl, in particular, had the first fall of the night. She was doing great on the flying trapeze and then she did an aerial twirl. She missed her timing and fell. She immediately got back up and went again.

I was watching her face and I told the girls she was too much in her head. I felt fairly certain she would fall again. I watched her as she prepared. I saw fear in her eyes. I saw her counting and counting and not feeling the rhythm.

She didn’t trust the practice. She didn’t trust the guy who had to catch her, she didn’t trust herself. She had a really hard time letting go of the bar and she missed the timing again. You could feel the whole crowd leaning in for her and when she fell there was a collective gasp from the audience (for the record she was fine, just a little shaken)

The performers didn’t like to fall. The crowd didn’t like when the performers fell. But it happened. It happened more than once. It certainly didn’t take away from all the times they hit their mark. It didn’t take away from our enjoyment and it reminded me that entrepreneurs have to learn how to fall if we have any intention of learning to fly!

5 Safety strategies for flying as an entrepreneur

  • Study – What is it that you want to do? Study the masters. Watch YouTube videos with people doing what you want to do. Read up on folks who have gone before you and done it well.
  • Train – build your “muscles” with someone(s) who can help keep you on track.
  • Prepare to fall safely – make sure you have a support team to boost your confidence. The job of this team is to ensure you don’t get hurt too badly when you fall. They are prepared for your fall and are there to support you! Before you ever try to fly, make sure they are in place.
  • Get out of your head – after you fall. Take a deep breath (cry if you need to) get back up and refocus on the task at hand. Not the last time you fell. New task, new focus!
  • Go back up to the top every time. It’s the only place from which you can fly. You can’t fly from the safety of the ground. You have to get back up to the top and jump off the ledge every time!