“Like a fish flopping in a boat”

New stuff is always feared and ridiculed. I mean, look at the Catholic Church. Someone once suggested the Earth wasn’t the centre of the universe, and all hell broke loose. They tortured people, for goodness’ sake. 

Collection of marbles, one alone in middle of a gap

Don’t be afraid of going against the norm and trying something new.

It’s not so different now… Gay marriage, condoms, you know.

Anyway — my point is that people fear the new and they fear the different. Why? Because change is uncomfortable. We don’t know if this new thing is going to be safe. It might kill us.

There are sound evolutionary reasons for being wary of the new.

But without pioneers and innovators, we’d still be sitting our caves hitting stuff with clubs, waiting for God to be invented, and suffering from a severe lack of cheese, wine, and chocolate.

The world needs people brave enough to ask “why?”, brave enough to poke their heads out the cave, walk up the hill, and take a look at the exciting world laid out in front of them.

Like American athlete Dick Fosbury.

He was short for a high-jumper, and struggled to jump the lofty heights of his fellow gazelles. So he started thinking. What if he didn’t have to do it the way it’d always been done? It was around this time that his school installed a foam pit for landings, instead of a sand-pit, and that got him thinking… What if he could try something new?

So he did. He turned the whole thing around, literally.

Instead of taking a run up and approaching the bar face-first, he turned at the last moment so his back was to the bar and jumped up backwards so he landed on his shoulders and back on the mat.

It worked, too.

But he suffered, because his new style was criticised heavily at first. One local newspaper said he looked like “a fish flopping in a boat” while another called him the “World’s Laziest High Jumper” together with a photo of him sliding over the bar backwards.

You’ve probably guessed the end of this story, particularly if you’ve ever done any field athletics at school…

In 1968, Fosbury had the last laugh as he won the NCAA championship and qualified for the Mexico City Olympic Games. During those Games, he set a new Olympic record by jumping 2.24 metres (7.35 feet).

But perhaps even better, he changed the face of high-jumping. The entire philosophy of the sport. His technique became the standard for high jumpers everywhere and he reclaimed his initial teasing when everyone started doing the Fosbury Flop.

What’s my message today?

Don’t be afraid of the new. Embrace it. Try stuff you’ve never tried before. Don’t listen to people who tell you it’ll never work; at best they’re misguided or not very bright. At worst, they’re nasty little folk who don’t want you to succeed.

Speaking of trying something new: if you’ve got an idea but are scared to try it out, or if you’re feeling stuck and confused. Worry not! Borrow My Brain and get my perspective on your problem!

Borrow My Brain, here



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

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