Surprise yourself: what happens when you step out of your comfort zone

“If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something, you’ve never done.” JD Houston

I recently went to a summer circus program for professional and pre-professional circus performers.
All the trainers were well educated; most of them went through the circus school in Montreal and had performed with companies like Cirque de Soleil, 7 fingers and the Cirque Éloize.

As you can probably imagine, I was equal parts excited and nervous. Especially when I saw the other students, many of whom impress me with their skills on Instagram every day.

How could I possibly measure up? After a morning of technical training in small groups, everyone came together for a creativity workshop. I had no idea what to expect but the sly smiles on the trainers face promised an interesting afternoon. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

For the very first exercise we were asked to walk across the room, one by one, and do something unexpected. Surprise yourselves, they told us. At first, I was utterly confused (and terrified) by the concept and it showed in my performance.

I had to repeat the exercise 3 times before the trainer was satisfied that I did indeed surprise myself. Luckily, I had little time to be mortified by this experience as we had already moved on to the next exercise.

Improvisation of course. Be animals, make noises, drop to the floor, keep moving, take it to 10... We continued improvising this way on a daily basis and even created entire performances around the weird yet amazing things we came up with during the sessions.

I am not going to deny that it continued to be challenging for me but by the end of the course I was not just getting used to the idea, I even started enjoying it.

It really made me think outside the box, find new pathways and movements I didn’t even know I could do. Now I love spending time on my trapeze and setting myself challenges that push me out of my comfort zone and help me add a little creative twist to well-rehearsed tricks.

So here is a challenge for you: put on some music and get on to your apparatus, whatever it may be, using a different number of contact points every time. Start with 5 points of contact, then 4, 3, 2, 1 and again in reverse order. Sounds challenging?

Well, it is but it is also a lot of fun and who knows, you might just surprise yourself.