The Flop is an art form. It may not be a painting in a museum or brilliantly crafted piece of music, but it is art all the same. It is the art of a tall, lanky American high jumper named Dick Fosbury who struggled to find a way over the bar. So, he experimented and innovated his way over it. His gold medal from the 1968 Olympics proves he was right despite all of the naysayers that laughed at his backwards approach (excuse the pun) while he was perfecting it. Now, they all copy him.

The Fosbury Flop was developed through one person’s willingness to see things in new ways, notice what around them has changed and apply the right amount of study and hours of practice to perfect it. In Fosbury’s case, he took advantage of three factors:

  1. The advent of the soft, elevated landing pad that allowed inverted jumping to be possible (and survivable).
  2. The realization that his tall body that was a disadvantage in traditional techniques was an advantage when using another technique he created.
  3. An empathetic and reflective coach that acted as a partner to help him improve instead of an authoritarian demanding compliance.

We can all learn how to become a better artist from Fosbury’s example. He spotted changes in the environment, competition and how his unique assets could be brought to bear on the challenge. One day, there might be a new way to soar over the bar. For now, this is the way.

Be an artist.

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