And after the last show of the day he had noticed I had been there, and he said, “Kid, would you like to learn to juggle?” Sometimes we find purpose, you see, when others take an interest in us, and give us an opportunity to grow. I wanted to succeed as much for his belief in me as for my own benefit.
And when I engaged the process, I loved it. I remember that moment when it finally clicked in with 3 balls, and felt amazing.
But almost immediately a new question came to mind. What was that? Of course, well how do I do 4? I am obviously so ready.
So I got the fourth ball, and I tried it, but I tried it the same way I knew how to do 3. They collided, they hit the ground, it was a disaster.
And I went back to my mentor frustrated the next weekend, and I said “Mike, what’s going on?”
He said, “Dan listen, when you add the fourth ball, you need to learn a new pattern.”
You see throughout life we engage patterns, patterns of thinking, patterns of action, patterns of interaction with others. We experiment. We find what works, and then we protect it, we defend it against everything else.
And you know what? If we want to grow beyond our abilities, we have to transcend our current patterns.
What Mike showed me is that when the balls cross with 3 balls, it’s not the same with 4. With even numbers you hold them a little longer. There’s actually 2 on that side, 2 on this side.
Basic — the basic patterns with even numbers do not cross your body, of course unless you’re doing some kind of fancy tricks or maneuvers. But the basic patterns stay on the same side.
And when he showed me that, just like you I went oh, that’s really cool. And I went home armed with this new knowledge, and I tried it again, and this time it still didn’t work.
Now I hadn’t practiced it enough to make it my own, I hadn’t worked hard enough, and dropped enough, and picked up those drops to confirm my commitment.
But a funny thing happened: as I continued to struggle, as I continued to put forth the effort with 4, I started to notice something unexpected. My 3-ball juggling was getting really, really good. Truth is I never really got the hang of 4 until I tried 5.
If you think what you’re doing now is difficult, it’s time to try something harder. You must be off balance in order to learn.
Now 5 balls goes back to a crossing pattern, check it out. So instead of having 1 in the air at all times, there’s 3 in the air at all times.
But what jugglers know, and what neuroscientists understand about the human mind is that we don’t truly multitask. We can’t do it all at once, we handle one thing at a time quickly, and perform what’s called the quick switch between our thoughts and our objectives.
For example, when one of these balls is out of my hand, it’s also out of my way. Yeah, it’s out of my control, it’s doing its own thing. I need to disengage that one, and engage a new target above my other hand.
And the key is this: no matter how much is going on, 5 balls or 7, there’s still space between the throws and catches, space between your throws and catches, your thoughts and your actions, right, or what you were doing and what you are doing next, or what you hear and how you choose to respond.
And it’s in those spaces that we reclaim control of our lives. You know? It’s not about increasing your pace, because life speeds right up with you.
Ironically, by slowing down even a little, you begin to notice those spaces, those opportunities, and they expand for you.
Here’s the 5-ball pattern, and as you look up here and you see the 5 balls in the air, what I want to know from all of you is, can you see that pattern? Can you see what it looks like? Can you imagine? Can you? Yeah?
Some of you, not too many though. So you know what? This is TED. We need to employ some TED red, and some technology. Lights please. Oh yeah.
Now can you see the pattern?
Yeah. Some say it looks like the wings of a butterfly. I see an infinity sign reflecting your infinite potential.
While our patterns are constantly changing and growing, it’s the patterns that engage us, and drive us forward. Lights please. Yeah?
So why do I tell you this? Well here’s why.
Because a moment ago you just saw a 5-sphere pattern in the air. I want to talk about your 5 spheres of success, your life. Check out the screen.