Last week I surprised my 13 year old daughter with a private trapeze lesson. It sounded like something fun and out of the norm, and it was a great excuse to visit Austin, one short hour away. After arriving in the parking lot where the trapeze “rig” was located, I told her about the surprise. She enthusiastically jumped out of the car, immediately ready to climb the rope into the clouds (I exaggerate but the ladder was pretty high!). No fear, no hesitation.
I watched as the two instructors, Kristin Finley and Rolando Bells, both professional trapeze artists with accomplished reputations, respectfully worked together, taking turns preparing my daughter for her trapeze debut. I listened as they patiently walked her through the process of how to hang from the air on a bar and what to expect. It suddenly dawned on me that flying on a trapeze is very similar to building a successful career. I couldn’t help but think about how adults are often frozen in fear by walking into a room full of strangers, or standing in front of an audience of three, or doing anything outside of their comfort zone. The instructors’ tips to fly are the same tips used by successful executives.
Flying in the Air (or On the Ground) With the Greatest of Ease:
- Training and education are non-negotiable. To be the best at any particular job, you must first put in the time to learn how to do it, and then do it to the best of your ability. Whether it’s a college degree, an internship, volunteer work, or on the job training, taking advantage of every opportunity to grow your skills is what will set you apart from the next trapeze high flyer. Without adequate training, you may get hurt, hurt someone else, or fail miserably.
- Listen carefully. The best conversationalist is also the best listener. You have to listen in order to understand what happens next. If you let your mind rush ahead to what you want to say, you will find yourself on the ropes unprepared and may pay the price in the process. Just as my daughter had to stay focused on what was being said in order to take the next step, it’s important for professional women and men to stay alert, engaged and in the moment when talking to a manager, client or colleague.
- Posture. To perform at your greatest potential, your posture on the trapeze is very important. Watching my daughter glide through the air, with such limited training was amazing. She was smooth, graceful and fluid because her instructors had given her the necessary information to perform at her best for her very first flight. In business, your posture sends an unspoken message about your professionalism, success, and confidence level. Have you ever seen a powerful CEO slink across the room, head down and shoulders dropped, making no eye contact? Not very often!
- Dress the part. You can’t hang from a trapeze in jeans and flip flops. Appropriate attire plays an important part in the way others perceive you. Not sure what’s business appropriate? Refer to my articles: What to Wear to A Job Interview: Men’s Etiquette Attire Quiz and What to Wear to A Job Interview: Women’s Etiquette Attire Quiz.
- Determination. It took my daughter several attempts to do an upside down split, while swinging from the trapeze bar. She was tired, full of chalk, and her stomach was starting to hurt, but she hung in. Many times we don’t achieve our goal during our first, second or third attempt. Perhaps we don’t receive that promotion or land the deal we’ve been working on for months. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you will never get better, stronger and more powerful without a few hard knocks along the way. Stay positive and keep going.
- Bravery. It’s often hard to do something new. But, the risk is worth it, especially if you’ve put in the time preparing for your chance to shine. When you deliver your presentation (or grab the trapeze rope) know your topic, dress the part, and speak with confidence. Your efforts will undoubtedly be noticed and recognized.
- Communication. Each instructor was communicating with not only my daughter, but with one another to make sure everyone was clear about what was about to take place. In business, clear communication is imperative and keeps everyone informed and in the loop. My former boss used to say to me, “No surprises Diane!”, when we were about to walk into a meeting. He wanted to be thoroughly briefed in order to engage with our clients effectively.
- Know your audience. My daughter knew I was standing by the net, watching intently. She would look over at me and smile, or make occasional eye contact before climbing up the ladder. This was her way of showing me she was enjoying her experience. It’s important to know your clients expectations. You must not only listen to what they have to say, but watch their body language to determine if they are comfortable with what they are hearing from you and how you are handling their business. If you are in any doubt as to their feelings, don’t hesitate to ask them for their feedback.
- Trust. My daughter trusted that Kristin and Rolando knew what they were doing and would keep her safe under their guidance. Does your client trust you have their best interest at heart? Do you trust your own professional instincts? Do your coworkers trust you have their back? Are your words strong and reliable? If the answer is “I’m not sure”, or “I don’t know”, I suggest you work on continuing to make trust a high priority.
- Have fun. You do your best when you are doing something you believe in and enjoy. Look at each experience as a stepping stone to building your professional portfolio. Make an effort to learn something new every day – maybe take a trapeze class with Kristin and Rolando! If you are interested in flying through the air with the greatest of ease, visit www.trapezeaustin.com.