What a “flop” taught me about thinking BIG!

What a “flop” taught me about thinking BIG!

Image via Wikipedia

My youngest son has been participating in a local track club this spring and summer. It’s been a great fit for him and it’s given me an opportunity to learn a whole lot more about the magic and mysteries of Track and Field.

As I’ve been digging in… I’ve found one of my favorite all-time stories about THINKING BIGGER!

And it has to do with a “flop.”

Some of you may already know where I’m headed with this… but stay with me… for an unexpected twist.

Here’s the first part of the story…

In the mid-sixties, there was a moderately effective high-jumper in the Northwest named Richard Fosbury. He was tall and lanky, but he wasn’t all that coordinated. So, when he came out for track, the coach put him in the high jump because of his height.

Well, ol’ Dick Fosbury tried the common high-jump tactics of the era. One was the barrel roll and the other was the scissors. And like everyone else… whenever he jumped… he landed in a pit of sawdust.

But then something “shifted” in the late 1960’s and Dick started to jump in a new way.

He literally started to hurl himself backwards over the bar.

He went from being moderately successful at the sport, to making it to the USA olympic team.

Now, I should also mention that he was laughed at along the way, because of how odd his new technique looked.

The story all culminated at the ’69 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

This relative unknown from the USA took the high-jump by storm with his unorthodox approach.

In fact, after his first jump, the stadium was hushed in a stunned silence. But from then on, each time Dick Fosbury jumped… the crowd erupted in a loud ‘Ole!

Check out the video for yourself…

So… this quiet… tall… relative newcomer to the sport took the gold and changed the sport forever.

In fact, by the next Olympics, over half of the field was using the new technique which was subsequently dubbed… “The Fosbury Flop.”

This story is great… and I love the underdog element as well as the willingness of one man to innovate in the face of being laughed at.

But I have to admit that the thing that really struck me is the thought that there was a subtle shift that happened in the late 60’s. It was a shift that impacted the entire high-jumping community. But Dick Fosbury was the only one to take advantage of it.

And even though I’ve researched the “shift,” I haven’t been able to isolate the reason for it. Maybe it was a protective parent. Or maybe it was an aggressive lawyer. Or maybe it was a concerned coach. Again, I’m not sure what caused the “shift.”

What was the “shift” that I’m talking about?

Well, somewhere in the late 60’s, they removed the sawdust pits from high jumps around the country and replaced them with… mats.

That’s right.

It was a “shift” that impacted every high jumper. The switch from a pit of unforgiving saw dust to a thick… comforting… mat.

It’s that “shift” that allowed for a completely new approach to the high jump. It was a “shift” that happened out in front of everyone.

But ‘ol Dick Fosbury was the only one to take advantage of it.

So… that got me thinking.

What are some “subtle shifts” that are happening around us?

What are some things that are quietly changing that are allowing us to do something… that we’ve always done in one particular way… in a new way?

I’ll give you one example… just to prime the pump. I’d bet that with all of the new laws around texting and driving emerging… we will see an exponential growth in voice-recognition software for your phone. There are already some front runners, but I’m betting we will see a tsunami-like wave of products and services coming out way!

How about it?

What “shifts” are happening that would allow you to create a new product or service?

What “shifts” are going on that would allow you and your organization to love/serve your customers better?

What “shifts” are occurring that would enable you to better spend your time?

What “subtle shifts” are happening right out there in front of all of us… that no one seems to be noticing?

Give it some thought.

And don’t just think about it… think BIG!

Just see where it takes you…


1 Comment
  • mitchamatthews
    Posted at 06:35h, 14 July Reply

    It was funny. The same day I posted this, I talked with a friend who is a recruiter. I told him this story and then asked if there were any “mats” in his world?He started to think. At first, he didn’t come up with anything but within minutes, he was struck with a new subtle trend that he is noticing with high level executives. He thought about it some more and decided to start to do just one thing differently to take advantage of it. Cool stuff!

Post A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.