The 1968 Mexico City Olympics marked the international debut of Dick Fosbury – and his celebrated “Fosbury Flop,” which would soon revolutionize high jumping.
Before Fosbury, jumpers would swing there outside foot, up and over the bar, much like a hurdler would jump over a hurdle. This allowed them to land on their feet. Fosbury’s technique, was much, much different.
He began by racing up to the bar at a great speed, and taking off from his outside foot. Then he twisted his body so that he went over the bar head-first – with his back to the bar.
While the coaches of the world shook their heads in disbelief, the Mexico City audience was absolutely captivated by Fosbury and shouted, “Ole!” each time he cleared the bar.
Fosbury cleared every height through 2.2 meters without a miss, and then achieved a personal record of 2.24 meters to win the gold medal. By 1980, 13 of the 16 Olympic finalists we’re using the famous Fosbury Flop.
I love Fosbury’s story, because it goes along the lines of something Mark Twain said, which was: Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
I recently read something that presented me with a whole new way of thinking. It made a lot of sense, and I wanted to share it with you.
A New York Times article titled: “The Secret Ingredient for Success,” led me to the book: The Art of Doing: How Super Achievers Do What They Do, and How They Do It So Well. The authors interviewed dozens of these super achievers, people who have gone to unprecedented heights of success.
All of them possessed the typical ingredients to success: Such as hard work, persistence, tenacity, resilience, and even luck they believed played a role in their extraordinary achievements. But there was an additional quality common to these super achievers; one I believe many of us discount and overlook. And that quality was: Self-Awareness.
When these super achievers were setting goals, or confronting obstacles, they subjected themselves to a very brutal self-assessment. They refused to bang their heads against the wall. They employed something called double-loop learning.
You see, single-loop learning is the repeated attempt to achieve a goal or solve a problem. The old adage: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
However, I learned Double-loop learning was far different. Double-loop learning entails using what we learned in prior attempts – to modify the goal in the light of our experience – or possibly even reject the goal all together.
Single-loop learning involves examining the technical reasons for why we did not achieve our desired outcome. What difficulties must we overcome to make the next attempt successful?
Double-loop learning, to quote the New York Times article, double-loop learning forces us to question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions.
Behavioral experts believe this type of self-examination requires that we honestly challenge our beliefs – and summon the courage to act on that information, which can lead us to fresh ways of thinking about our lives, and our goals.
This is something to think about. Because it’s always a good idea to look at things from a different vantage point. Especially if you’re not getting the result you’re looking for.
You see, you’re always entitled to change the way you do things. You’re also entitled to change your goals, that is, if they don’t make sense for you any longer.
However, I’ll warn you, speaking from experience: It’s not easy to change. Because habits are never easy to break. But the payoffs can be astronomical if the changes are the right ones.
Now I’m not suggesting you ring in the New Year by ringing out your old ways. I’m merely suggesting you think about if some changes are in order. Because as Winston Churchill once said: However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.
Let me close with this: The only way any of us can improve, is if we develop a real ability to assess ourselves. Because I’ve learned: If we can’t do that, we’ll never be able to tell if we’re getting better, or worse.