A big flop that broke the rules and broke the records

 Feb 05, 2016

Working on my method of opening any book at any page and blindly putting your finger on a word, I thought I may as well do it in a book that is all about ideas. I turned Jack Foster’s book on “How to get Ideas” to page 116 and was immediately drawn to a name on the page; Dick Fosbury. (I did cheat here; instead of blindly finger-pointing, I was drawn to the name.)

The section I opened up to was on “breaking the rules” in order to get ideas, and mentions many names other names such as: David Ogilvy, Beethoven and Pasteur.

I was drawn to Fosbury because to me growing up he was the rule, and I became curious as to how it was that he broke the rules? So, I looked him up.

Fosbury was a 21-year-old college student who represented the US in High Jumping at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. His method had been criticised and some questioned its legitimacy. He had an awkward looking jump that lowered his centre of gravity and enabled him to arch his way backwards over the bar and flop shoulder first onto the mat. Hence, the media dubbed the jump, the “Fosbury Flop”.

In the end, there was nothing in the rule book that officials could disqualify him for and Dick Fosbury flopped his way to a gold medal and into the record books.

When the 1972 Olympics came around in Munich, 28 out of the 40 competitors used Fosbury’s technique and he is regarded as one of the most influential athletes ever in track and field.

Innovation occurs when we allow ourselves to step outside of the way it’s done now, break the assumptions that keep us in patterned behaviours and say…”what if?”

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About the Author:

Tim Higgs  

Tim has been involved in the corporate training industry for over 15 years; seven of these have been as the Portfolio Manager and Senior Facilitator at New Horizons. Tim holds a Graduate Diploma (Psych/Couns), a masters' degree in Cultural Psychology and a bachelor's degree in Business, giving him a unique theoretical backdrop for understanding human performance in the workplace. This complements his actual experience of working within the corporate sector in sales and management positions and owning and running a small business. Having worked with individuals and groups in both clinical and business settings, Tim has a fantastic insight into human behaviour, motivation and the issue of human change.

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