5 things I learnt about business from the circus

You may or may not know that I ran away to the circus last week. I was accompanied by my daughter, who just happens to be an aerial student, but it was really me who ran away….

You see I always fantasised about joining the circus, enjoying the life of a traveller, with the smell of the greasepaint and the buzz-like-no-other of performing to a thrilled audience in raptures. But there was no circus school nearby when I was little, and my parents were middle-class professionals – they weren’t exactly going to seek one out to satisfy my whimsy.  I did ballet and jazz and musical theatre and that was enough. It was wonderful, if a little controlled and contained.

But I always loved the circus. And then I forgot that.

I forgot that incredible thrill that the big top offers…until I saw Cirque du Soleil when I was in my late 20s. I remembered how intensely terrifying it is to watch the tightrope walkers and high flyers on the trapeze, I remembered the squeamish marvelling at the contortionists, I remembered the childish joy of the clowns.  The feelings surfaced again, those feelings of freedom and unadulterated joy that I had when I was so small.  So when Miss 9 was asked to join the performance troupe with her circus school, there was no hesitation. Living vicariously may have to be enough.

The first performance trip with the troupe was to The Lismore Show last week. Three days, nine performances and a whole lot of fun and craziness in between.  Obviously I was there to support the kids but interestingly I learnt some things from the coaches and support crew that I didn’t expect.  Things that can directly be applied to the world of business.

5 things I learnt about business from the circus:

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From BLISS to BLACKOUT; counting my lucky stars

How life can change in an instant…

Just wanted to say a few quick words about my past 7 days. For those who don’t know, which is probably quite a few, I had a terrible car accident last Monday night. It happened on a local freeway, at high speed, and I sustained a head injury. The good news is, it only knocked some sense into me.

In short, I’m bloody lucky to be alive.

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Festive reflections

 “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

As the year draws to a close, most of us take time to reflect on what was, what could have been and what the hell! And it can surprise us, just how much we’ve achieved, or it can make us squirm uncomfortably as we realise it was just another ho-hum year that dwindled by without a whole lot of positive progress.

Now, it would be completely unrealistic to expect that each year is going to be extraordinary, filled with massive highs, few lows and progression in leaps and bounds. Some years just aren’t meant to be that way. And you know what? Your adrenal glands will thank you! Rarely can every single year be an adrenaline fuelled party where success is all you feel. However, I do think it is important to keep aiming for better each year. Better health, better wealth, better connections, better balance, better fulfilment. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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Making assumptions about your audience is foolish

You probably know by now that I’m overseas on a big long-awaited family holiday. It’s been equally wonderful and exhausting – and we’re only half way through.  Travelling with young children is not easy and tempers have been frayed at times, but we’re all still speaking and noone has been sent home alone…yet…  So whilst I have a spare moment, I want to share some thoughts about the assumptions we make of our people.

We’ve been in the US, camping and meeting bears, renewing our wedding vows in Vegas, chatting with heroes in Disneyland and all along it’s struck me how often we make up stories about places and people before we’ve even met them or experienced them.  Aussies definitely have preconceived ideas about Americans, and the reverse is also true.  As travellers we  make assumptions about how we should be treated and as adults we make assumptions about how our children should behave in certain situations.

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Magic happens when you keep believing

Sorry it’s been some time between messages but I’ve been kinda busy getting ready for a rather large trip. Today, however, I felt it necessary to share a story about magic.

You see, a year ago today I sat my husband down, gave him a glass of champagne and then wheeled in some brand new suitcases. On one of the suitcases was a message from Mickey Mouse. It was inviting him to celebrate his 40th birthday at the Happiest Place on Earth. And now, 365 days later, I am writing to you from a hotel in Anaheim, and Disneyland is a mere 7 minute walk away.

It’s kind of surreal that it’s all actually happened. We’ve had the busiest of years with my business and my book, with the kids, with my dad’s illness, and with Simon’s work, but we stuck to our guns, made a plan and made it happen.

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The entrepreneurial school holiday blues

Four days in and I’ve given up the fight.

The tussle and juggle of solo-business owner versus school holidays was over today. It just had to be. Because I was driving myself mad and the kids too, and that’s just not cool anymore.

This working from home (albeit in an awesome custom-built studio!) combined with kids at home scenario just does not work for me, or them.  And I knew that. I know that.  It happens every term, every year.  I head into school holidays with a sense of trepidation and angst – the complete opposite of my non-business-owning or working friends – as well as a huge bag of mother guilt for feeling that way.  The “can’t you just take some time off? You’re the boss aren’t you?” comments don’t help either….

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Red light and blue sky

This morning as I set up office in my new favourite cafe, my lemongrass and ginger tea brewing silently in its pot as the toddlers noisily bustled around their mother’s legs, I had one of those moments of bliss. Those moments where you realise your kids are independent enough to be at an activity on their own (kung fu and school) and I have 40 glorious minutes to just be me.  With a calming sigh, in delicious anticipation of doing some writing I gently lifted the lid on my MacBook and pressed the start key.

But instead of that welcoming ‘da-daaaaam’ sound, I was shown the ugly face of the red light, battery symbol.


How could I have been so stupid!  My heart pumped faster, my legs crossed in indignation and my mind raced to all the ‘issues’ I’d have now because I couldn’t get 1, 2 and 3 things done in my allotted time.

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The origin of language: a 4 year old boy’s musings

I had a very interesting chat with Master 4 the other day. It went something like this:

“Mummy, how did I learn to talk?”

“Because I taught you. And so did daddy, and nanny and poppy, and your sister. Everyone that is around you and loves you has taught you to talk. We speak to you, you listen, and you connect the words to the thing or action.”

“So, who taught you to speak then?”

“Nanny and poppy and my teachers.”

“Ok, then. So who taught them? And who taught those ones? And really mummy, who taught the first person EVER in the world to speak? They didn’t have anyone to teach them?? And why did they just make up sounds and give names to stuff like TREE. How did they know that was supposed to be called a TREE?”


Yes. Umm. Well?

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Expectations of self

Yesterday I had a crappy day.
It felt doubly crappy because I was really pumped to have a good day. But it just didn’t pan out that way.

You see, I went on an excursion with Master 4 and his kinder crew. The weather was stunning, the location awesome, the anticipation large and I had high hopes that we’d be creating beautiful memories to savour for years to come. In fact, I thought this day was seriously going to rock. And so did he.

But instead it was just really shitty. And we both cried a lot, shouted a bit (him more than me – I do have some modicum of control when in public!), and really didn’t like each other for a good few hours. I kind of sulked, he got really uppity and it was pretty darn miserable. It will go down in my books as a huge parenting fail and one of the first conscious moments for remorse from the 4 year old.

I won’t fill in all the blanks, but needless to say my expectations were not met… and in the quiet of my pillow cuddle, with tear-stained cheeks in the safety of the dark, I was forced to reconsider whether I had been unrealistic in my expectations.  All I had wanted was for him to play and respect me in the same manner as he did at home, to join in the group activities and to give everything – even the scary tube slide – a go.  I wanted to get grinning-selfies, peekaboo-pics and laugh in the sunshine with him. But instead of being his bestie I became his worstie. And he didn’t join in – he stuffed around with his new bestie. And he didn’t take my hand and give it all a go, he screamed and shouted and told me I was mean to make him do something he was scared of. It broke my heart and his spirit and pretty much annoyed the hell out of anyone in a 200 metre radius.

So as I put my big girl pants back on last night, stopped pouting and being cross, and let the sadness wash over me then start to dissipate, I realised that our expectations are often not met – by our families or our businesses, and in particular by ourselves. I wanted so much for everything to be like a storybook and yet, why?  I’m not stupid or unaware – I’ve already been there done that with another 4 year old. I know stuff doesn’t always work out beautifully, (in fact I know there’s a high percentage chance of it NOT working out beautifully when it comes to 4 year olds!) and yet as my hopes for the perfect memory-making day were dashed I behaved like a spoilt teenager. I was SO disappointed I could have cried like a …well, like a 4 year old…..

It’s weird how our behaviour sometimes surprises us. It’s kind of odd how we sneak up on ourselves and do something that makes us feel uncomfortable, awkward, outside of ourselves.  We’re in control of own behaviour and it shouldn’t happen like that, right? I mean I’m a sane, grown woman, with an educated mind and a rational sense of self. What the hell happened?? Thankfully these moments are pretty rare for me now (believe me, I did HEAPS of sneaking up on myself when I was in my 20s and 30s…) but it does still happen.

I guess as I mature and check in with myself more regularly it is less and less likely to occur (unless of course I start to lose my marbles….at which point I reckon I’ll just embrace ‘loopy’ and not worry too much about what I say or how I act!).  What I do know is that I’ve become really good at not letting my business sneak up on me anymore. There was a time when it would bite me on the arse because I was just not aware, not in control and not conscious enough of my own impact. Now, I am very mindful of where I should offer advice and when I should back off, where I can add big value and when I should leave it to another expert, and what makes me tick and hum and flow.  I’m also really cognisant of who I want to work with, who I can help and who I should just let go…..THIS state of ‘knowing’ and subsequent control has only occured after many years of working at it – with plenty of help from others and lots of work by myself, ON myself.

If only there was a sure-fire manual to help heal the heartstrings of a mother’s momentarily dashed hopes and dreams for her crazy-beautiful 4 year old….

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