THE SUPERPOWER OF A FIGURE SKATING AUDIENCE
"What the ...?" you might think now. Okay, I admit the headline is a bit random, so I am happy to give you a short explanation as to where this article is heading. We all face new challenges on a regular basis. New job, new hobby, new city or any change of any kind. By daring something new, we make ourselves vulnerable (thanks Brené Brown, I learned that from you), because we don’t know how things will turn out, no matter how well prepared we feel. However, we are also brave (bravery and vulnerability are inseparable). We start this new project and take it out there into the world. Since life does not always go to plan, we might stumble and that's when we would be in need of a motivational push. This is where figure skating comes into play where I keep discovering a phenomenon which I would describe as the world's biggest motivational bomb.
I have been a hardcore figure skating fan for 15 years and watch all the competitions with blood, sweat and tears either in front of the TV or in the middle of the arena. Okay, no blood. In December I went to a big event in Turin where the créme de la créme of the competitive figure skating world met and although I had discovered the above-mentioned phenomenon a few times before, it was then when I first thought about the effects it would have on us in our daily lives.
Dmitriy Aliev, a celebrated and extremely talented skater from Russia skated his Free Skate. He jumped and fell. Did not matter too much, there were still a few jumps lined up. He fell again. And again. He even lost his balance during a spin and fell again. What did the audience do? After the second fall they already noticed that his motivation and self-confidence were leaving him. So they cheered for him. After every element that worked out, they clapped and cheered showing him that he could do it. It did not matter which country they came from or if they usually supported other skaters. They simply wanted him to feel that every single one of the thousands of fans believed in him. Of course he left the ice shattered. Well, he just had a shit day. We all do from time to time. But one thing I was sure of: the fact that people he did not know at all from all over the world backed him up made him feel good.
Back to our new projects: we started them with a lot of motivation and suddenly we notice that all of this does not work out properly. Friends and family are here for us, but we still keep a lot to ourselves (nobody wants to hear our problems over and over again). We fall into a deep hole. So just imagine: What if an entire crowd of unknown people stood down there and cheered for us? For our bravery to start something new, to dare greatly and to make ourselves vulnerable in doing so.
Last December I fell in such a hole and needed quite a bit of time to climb back up towards the light. On the way I sometimes stopped and thought, “is it all worth it? This whole struggle? I could just stay down here, it all works somehow.” Problem: I was not happy down there. Wet, dark, cold, lonely. If I had had a figure skating audience around, unknown people from all the world who didn’t even know me but still cheered for me, I would have been out of this bloody hole so much more quickly without the need of Vitamin D drops. Okay, not quite like this, I live in Amsterdam after all, but you know what I mean. The “Up Again” would have been so much easier.
Nice idea, right? Of course reality does not look like that, unfortunately. Or maybe it does? I think it is on us to design our everyday life a little according to this phenomenon . So if you have to reject someone for a position in your company the next time, just take one minute more and send them a few motivating lines. Or when you see a big “fail” on social media going viral, write a nice comment or DM. Show them your respect for putting themselves out there and get them out of the hole much more quickly or don’t even let them fall in. Just think of Dmitriy who, by the way, was crowned European Champion on 23 January 2020, less than eight weeks after his fall. With a pitch perfect and clean Free Skate. Watch it here and get blown away!