Don’t Give Up

kops-lake-1610739_640In 2009, three friends from Karawara, Western Australia started a YouTube Channel. They called it “How Ridiculous.” Derek, Brett, and Scott began posting videos of trick shots using basketballs and footballs; a hobby they developed as a way to avoid schoolwork. Over time, the shots became more and more, well ridiculous. Props got bigger, distances grew longer, and heights increased. Each successful stunt caused them to think up ever more creative and entertaining tricks to attempt.

You may think that watching someone shoot a basketball into a hoop from the roof of a building seems like a complete waste of time. That’s what I thought as well, at least until one of their recent videos showed up in my feed. I clicked it, watched it, and instantly thought “you know, there’s a lesson to be learned here.” Allow me to explain.

In the October 12th video, the team travels to Luzzone Dam in Ticino, Switzerland. As a follow-up to an earlier video, in which they’d dropped a bowling ball onto a trampoline from a 45 meter tower, they wanted to see if they could hit the same target from an even higher starting point. Luzzone Dam is 165 meters high. That’s almost four times as high and, as you can imagine, much more complex. To hit the target, they’d have to place the trampoline in the right spot, release the ball the right distance from the edge of the dam, and account for any other variables they might encounter. Here’s what I noticed about their approach.

  1. They had a simple, clearly defined goal. The team’s objective was to have the bowling ball bounce off of the trampoline. Despite the challenges and distractions they encountered, they kept returning to what they had defined as their goal. Other interesting things happened in over the course of the experiment, but even shattered bowling balls and craters in the ground didn’t deter them. These results made for spectacular video, but they didn’t allow themselves to deter from the original plan.
  2. They tried different approaches. When the first attempt missed the target entirely, and destroyed the bowling ball, they discussed what went wrong and made adjustments before moving on. They made note of what happened, including things they didn’t expect, and made subtle shifts to keep getting closer and closer to what they wanted to accomplish.
  3. They didn’t give up. The team arrived in Switzerland with two bowling balls. The first was destroyed during attempt number one. The second only made it through two drops before it was destroyed as well. Because the objective hadn’t been reached though, the team regrouped and came back the next day ready to try again. On the fifth drop of day two, another bowling ball was shattered against the side of the dam. Still, the team plunged ahead.

Finally, on the 12th drop, the team was successful. The 4th bowling, their last, hit the trampoline and rocketed back up into the air. It peaked and fell back onto the trampoline for a second bounce before veering off the side. The frustration expressed during earlier attempts gave way to huge smiles and shouts of joy.

Yes, this may be a frivolous exercise, but how many times have you been in the midst of working on a project only to encounter setback after setback. Rejection, delays, equipment failures, and any number of other impediments to success often make me feel like my efforts are a waste of time. Still, I’m encouraged by Brett’s thoughts as he summed up his team’s latest stunt. He said they were inspired by this victory to move on to even greater tricks and reminded us all to pause from time to time to enjoy the view from the top.