What circus arts and business have in common

What circus arts and business have in common
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Have you ever seen someone leaping off a 25 foot platform, swinging by their legs then somersaulting into the air?

Or even better, have you tried it yourself?  Two weeks ago, I did (let the photo above be exhibit A).  It was terrifying, exhilarating and amazingly fun at the same time.  Let’s face it, that mix of feelings is more common in life than most of us think. Whether you’re giving a big presentation to executives at your firm, interviewing for a promotion or asking for VC funding for your growing startup, there’s a mix of fear and hope rushing through you.


“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.”

– Unknown


So, similar to the circus performing trapeze artists, how can you harness the fear AND hope to drive business performance?  Here are 4 principles to keep in mind:

1. Focus on the outcome:  its easier to visualize yourself grabbing the bar and swinging into a perfect somersault when you are standing at the top of the trapeze platform. Sometimes,  its the vantage point that helps you more distinctly define the end goal. Clearly deciding and articulating the outcome you are looking for in any situation will help your mind focus on the real reason you are doing this crazy, fearful activity. It immediately reminds you of the positive result you are seeking and helps you break down the process into little steps that lead to success. By clearly visualizing the end result, a little bit of fear transforms into excitement. It may be just enough to propel you forward. Successful entrepreneur Kelsey Ramsden shares more about overcoming fear here. 


2. Lean into momentum: Momentum is key when swinging on a trapeze in the air. You gain momentum by shifting at certain points in a swing and by leaning in further than you feel comfortable. Isn’t it the same in business? Taking action when inspiration hits, builds momentum. Saying yes to risks when they come your way, builds momentum. 

Just keep going. Momentum matters in the fast paced world we live in. Fear has the ability to stop momentum but hope can kick it into the next gear, so choose hope and lean into the momentum of taking action.

“In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


3. Embrace failure: One wrong movement can send you flying off the trapeze bar and into a spiralling fall. But you gain key information for next time. Failing on one trapeze swing is necessary training for the next attempt. Just like failing in business offers you growth and high speed learning. Let’s not be naive,  embracing failure is almost always easier said than done yet if you can do it faster, with grace and an open mind- it can be a game changer and open door to breakthroughs. Take a few hints from Google X’s operating procedures on failure


4. Trust the net:  One slip or wrong move on the trapeze and you will fall at high speeds…AND there will be something there to catch you- the net, the harness, another person. Often times, the fear of falling is worse than the actual fall. With a little trust, the fall doesn’t seem so devastating. In business, a little trust goes a long way. Trusting your team, your product, yourself can lend itself to outstanding results ( and it can be scary at the same time). Decker LaDouceur, a circus artist and entrepreneur shares his story about Trust, Circus Arts and Business here:

Turns out circus arts and business have a lot in common- both are great teachers in fighting fear and growing hope in order to achieve your dreams.

Which one of these lessons can help you dissolve fear to take action?

Share your stories and actions with the global leadership tribe in the comments below.


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