I bought my twin sons pogo sticks for their birthday. “This was a terrible idea,” my husband whispered to me as we tottered down the steps to our unfinished basement and I strapped helmets (I know, I know — helicopter parent) to my children before they tried to pogo on concrete for the first time.
I have no idea what encouraged their interest in the pogo stick other than what it usually takes to sell a 6-year-old something — a photo of a smiling child in a magazine on a pogo stick. (Marketing would be easier if we all targeted kids I think … but alas.) So, after weeks of them asking for it, I acquiesced, and there we were.
The first time on, Will got to two jumps and Sully got to three. They spent five minutes jumping this way, making it up to five jumps before falling.
Then, Will declared, “I’m going to get 10.” Sully looked at him. It was a “Sandlot” moment. Challenge accepted.
Within one minute, Will bounced 10 times in a row. He’d doubled what he was capable of doing in 60 seconds.
And when Will reached 10, Sully said, “I’m going to get 15.” And he did — within another minute.
I started watching them; I was counting, so there wasn’t much choice. But I started noticing the little things. Will had learned that if he pulled his shoulders back before he stepped on, he had more balance. Sully learned to take more time up front before he stepped on. They also learned to fall better.
Within just 10 minutes, Sully had reached 45 jumps. (There was a lot of sweat involved.)
I won’t pretend it was one of the finest athletic moments in the Maynes household history, but it did get me thinking as I sat there counting (again, and again, and again), about the simple formulas for success that can be easy to overlook in the complex world we try to keep up with every day.
1) Be courageous enough to state a goal — out loud.
The boys could have jumped for hours and gotten to five. But just saying out loud “I’m going to get 10” made an enormous difference in Will getting there. Now he knew what he was working for.
2) Stage your goals.
If Will had started by saying, “I’m going to jump 45 times,” success would have felt impossible. There’s a difference between a stretch goal and an impossible goal: Don’t set yourself or your team up for a morale defeat that can take the spirit out of a legitimate effort; look for realistic, then push it a bit with your stretch, and get going.
3) Give yourself permission to fall.
Because it teaches you how to fall … better. You won’t always reach the goal. There will be many times that you fall short. But you can’t look at everything that happened as you tried to reach it and say that it was all for naught. You learned a lot in those in-between goal moments. You learned how to tweak your methods along the way — you learned how to pull back your shoulders before you stepped up. That’s knowledge that’s moving you in the right direction.
4) Build in a little competition.
Almost all of us have a competitive streak. Every time Will or Sully earned “first place” with the number of jumps, you could see the other one set his teeth with determination. Once your goal is set, figure out a way to create a competition within it.
If you find you reach your goal and need a place to celebrate, head on over. We’ll likely still be pogoing. The boys Googled “World Pogo Record” last night and discovered it was owned by someone who jumped 206,864 times. Sully reached 55 today, so we still have a little work to do.