This past spring, we enrolled my two-year old son in a gymnastics class. Unfortunately, living in Toronto, space is a premium, so his gymnastics class was in a modified office building. Fortunately, he’s two, so even the small trampoline (remember those fitness ones from the eighties that were all the craze—the ones about two feet in diameter?) was still a big draw.
Since the class ended, he’s been able to keep up his practice in the off-season thanks to a trampoline we have set up at the cottage. While his initial thrills were rooted in getting a slight bounce with every step, his confidence has grown and he is looking for the bigger bounces—the ones that take him higher, but also risk him falling flat on his face. I noticed that we kept telling him he has to jump in the middle of the trampoline to go after those kinds of bounces. You need to go after the area with more give, more flexibility and a looser structure to get the higher bounce. I also realized that this holds true for most of the thrills and exhilaration we achieve in our work lives.
Operating in a structured, rigid environment is akin to jumping around the perimeter of the trampoline. You can still get some air, but it’s not going to give you that rush or that kind of bounce you need to try out new moves such as back flips (or, if you’re two, a jump that takes you higher than a few centimeters). It’s the centre of the trampoline where there is more flexibility, more give and more room to get the highest highs and the biggest bounces. While those on the perimeter might point out that the bigger the jump, the more likely it is that you fall flat on your face. Very true—we witnessed many face plants watching our son. But we also witnessed his bounces get higher and higher.
If you manage staff, are you asking for greatness and growth while containing them to the perimeter of the trampoline or encouraging them to jump in the middle?