Throw, Throw, Drop, Drop, …. or How to Learn The Art of Juggling



Last year I learnt to juggle…….  before you ask, no I can’t do it very well, but that is because I stopped practising after 4 days and haven’t picked them up since…. so why did I start juggling? I was training to become an Insights Discovery Practitioner (but more about that another time!)

According to the Insights Practitioner manual…..

“Learning to juggle is the perfect metaphor for the learning process. The lessons of learning to juggle can be applied to many different things, including personal development and relationships”

After all, learning how to learn is life’s most fundamental skill.

You can learn to juggle too.. so here’s a quick juggling lesson

Step 1: One Ball

You should always start with success… most people can throw one ball from hand to hand, you need a gentle arc just above eye level, left to right and right to left…. success is a great motivator, so lets move on.

Step 2: Throw, throw, drop, drop

The fear of failure prevents us from trying. With juggling the fear is about dropping the balls. Stage 2 actually encourages you to break this paradigm by deliberately dropping the balls after you have achieved the correct arc.

Step 3: Throw, throw, catch, catch

This time we throw the balls and catch them, this will take a little more practise as your natural instinct is to throw one ball and pass the other one from hand to hand. These old habit patterns need to be changed in the same way that some of our behaviours need to be changed. Throw the balls upwards and not across.

Step 4: Three balls

Take two balls in your preferred hand and the third in the other. You are not ready to throw three balls yet, first of all you need to get the feel of the third ball, carry on with your “throw, throw, catch, catch” routine with two balls until you are ready.

Step 5: Throw, throw, throw

With two balls in one hand and one in the other, throw the front ball in the hand that has two in a gentle arc across to the other hand. As it reaches its highest point, throw the ball in the other hand, and as that reaches its highest point, throw the third ball again in that arc, but let all the balls drop. Once you have a feeling of the rhythm you can go back to “throw, throw, catch, catch, throw, throw, catch, catch” until you are ready to let go of the third ball.

Step 6: Jugulation

Throw and catch the third ball and the “jugulation” is complete, simply throw a fourth, then fifth time and there you are.. you are juggling! Thereafter it is just practice!

So what are the key learning points if this is just a metaphor for the way we learn in real life?….

·         Fear of failure: One of the greatest single fears that holds us back from achieving anything in life is the fear of failure. In juggling you can create the environment where it is acceptable to fail. In fact dropping the balls is one of the most important elements of learning to juggle.
·         Eliminating old bad habits: In order to learn to juggle, most people must inhibit or let go of old habit patterns. The juggling metaphor shows, with a little bit of application, how easy this can be.
·         Balance: In juggling, as in life, it is important that balance is maintained. That is, it is important not to become “handed”. You should be able to throw with your left hand first and right hand first with equal ease. One hand will be easier than the other. It is the same in life, the balance between work and play is an important one to maintain.
·         The learning process: Learning is often simplest when broken down into simple steps. However, in juggling we can get to the whole process very quickly. This is the way children learn with the complete approach. Once the initial steps have been mastered it is simply a question of practice and discipline, as with so many other things.
·         The importance of getting started: many people have a success rate of less of less than zero in juggling and in many things they want to attempt in life – because they never even try. The juggling process encourages people to do things, which at first may seem difficult, but with a little application become easy.

Did you know that Juggling can boost brain power?

•          Brain researchers at the University of Regensburg, Germany examined a sample of 12 people who had learnt to juggle.

•          They found juggling caused parts of their brain to grow.

•          After they stopped juggling (three months later) their brains returned to their normal size.

•          The scientific research used a control group of 12 people who had not learnt to juggle to compare with.

So in conclusion, Juggling and learning the key points to remember are:

  1. The importance of getting started
  2. Break the process down into small steps to achieve lots of little successes
  3. In order to learn new habits, you have to break old, bad habits
  4. The biggest fear that holds us back is the fear of failure
  5. The importance of balance
  6. Practice makes perfect
  7. Coaching improves performance
  8. Enjoy yourself!

Now where did I put those juggling balls…………?

Acknowledgements : Andrew Lothian:  Insights Discovery

Lessons from the Art of Juggling: How to achieve your full potential in business, learning, and life.  Michael J. Gelb and Tony Buzan, Crown Trade Paperback, 1994, ISBN 0917643011

More Balls Than Hands: Juggling Your Way to Success by Learning to Love Your Mistakes. Michael Gelb 2003 ISBN 978-0735203372


About carolwoolley

I’m a Mum with passion for reading, astronomy and music. I sing 2nd Alto in the Kidderminster Valentines female voice choir and play the clarinet and flute in the Bewdley Concert Band. By profession I am a Chartered Librarian, qualified trainer and currently a Deputy Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Follow me on twitter @woolleybear64
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