The Cirque du Soleil and 7 tips for life and achieving goals

In Changing life, Life goals, Positivity, Productivity on January 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm

A couple of days ago I had the joy of watching the world famous Cirque du Soleil’s new show ‘Totem’ in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Pricey as it was, it was definitely worth every single penny in these austere times. Both my friend and I sat for a couple of hours completely mesmerised by the unbelievable physical feats, athleticism, beauty and creativity of the show.

It got us thinking about how much must have gone into the production of the show. On the outside as spectators it looked so easy and effortless. But of course, that wasn’t the reality behind the razzle-dazzle.

7 things I’ve been reminded of from watching the Cirque about life and achieving whatever goals you now find yourself trying to attain:


Whether its work, friendships or relationships or anything else, life requires a commitment to live. The troupe in the Cirque can’t do the job they do with the mental and emotional energy needed to do it well, if at the outset, they didn’t, commit mentally and emotionally to the hours of training needed.

Are there parts of your life, things you want to do or change, that you need to actually commit to or recommit to, so that you can move a few steps forward? If so, grab a paper and pen and start writing down what baby steps you will take to do this.


The Cirque worked as a group and as well as individual performers, one and all together in unison. Everyone had their own part to play.

An immense amount of focus obviously went into the performance – not least because of safety – but also because of the precision needed to put on a flawless performance. We admired the Cirque partly because it shows what intense focus is capable of achieving when you put your mind to it and how it is possible to push past limitations – whether self-imposed or imposed by others.

Are there areas of life where you are unnecessarily limiting yourself because of a lack of focusing your energy? Or whether it is ignoring things going on in your life that you really should stop ignoring? Perhaps you are giving up too much of your time to unnecessary distractions – people, situations or drama? Start working out what you could do to regain some of your energy and focus and reclaim the ability to craft your ‘destiny.’ Remember, bite sized chunks at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day!


This is a bit different from focus. By ‘discipline’ I mean the ability to keep following through. Or as Woody Allen, I think, once said,” to show up.”

Life requires you “show up” otherwise it will continue to march forward, pass you by and introduce change that you have little influence or control over. The Cirque has to focus and commit to their art. But to maintain that focus and commitment they have to show up. Hour after hour, day after day, practicing those mid-air acrobatic feats. Tiring, I’m sure. Repetitive, no doubt. Boring, probably at times. But necessary to exercise discipline to be excellent in what they do.


It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the Cirque thought they would achieve mastery of their art earlier than they actually did. I’m sure enthusiasm, focus, commitment (and the ability to take orders) were all necessary. But it takes time for practice to bear fruit and for the mind and body and brain to absorb the lessons being learnt so that it becomes second nature. Patience is necessary to trump frustration when it occurs and not let it take root in your mind, discouraging you from your hard work and hopes.

Are there any areas where frustration and impatience is putting you off from showing up, focusing and following through in life? Is frustration leading you to make mountains out of molehills and skewing your judgement or draining your motivation to stay or get disciplined? If so, take a breath; take some time out to ask yourself what can you do to make things more manageable? If its work – can you reassign how you do your tasks? If it is emotions, are you foisting unreasonable or unrealistic expectations on yourself or others? If it is self-confidence, can you identify where you might trip yourself up (e.g. self-criticism that has no basis in reality?)


A massive, massive part of the Cirque’s performance was simple trust in fellow performers, despite the physical risks involved. Back when I was doing acting classes in my early twenties, we used to do ‘trust’ exercises which I tended to find a bit annoying and a bit pointless at the time (my impatient streak).

But seeing the Cirque in such extreme physical situations reminded me why trust matters when it comes to life and success. In the Cirque each performer had to commit to a move or action, otherwise the safety of the other performer would be put at risk, let along the artistry of the show. You gotta develop the ability to trust your judgement if you’ve actually put in the hard work and serious thought into something; or you’ll never make a decision about anything. The danger is that you will be led rather than lead yourself, and instead of having the confidence to make your own choice, will likely be susceptible to well-meaning, but sometimes misguided advice of others. No one who tries to be the pioneer of their life can do it without cultivating a degree of trust and self-confidence, no matter the physical, mental or cultural odds stacked against them. And at least if it all goes belly-up, you can learn from your own mistakes, and own powers of reasoning, rather than that of others.

Trust also matters because it reminds you that you can only keep on learning and developing, whether its emotional or professional, if you do; that is to take action. Where are you not trusting? Is your fear of taking a risk or a chance really as bad as you make out? Can you logically weigh up the pros and cons instead of assuming the worst? Is there anyone neutral who might be able to give you another perspective? What is the worst that would happen if you took a chance, jumped, tried and went for whatever you want in life? Work out how you would cope practically if things didn’t work out the way you wanted. Life offers no guarantees about anything, but it is better to move than stand still forever. Otherwise, the likelihood at some point is mental, emotional and professional stagnation leading to unhappiness. Don’t ever believe anyone who says if it’s meant to be…”. That is a motto for letting life happen to you, rather than finding some cojones and doing the best you can. Worst piece of advice ever!!


I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to recognised for their achievements, work or effort.  However, the Cirque reminded me it takes hard work, sometimes a thankless use of your energy and time, and some guts and daring before recognition comes your way. And you may not even be around to enjoy it! Look at Vincent Van Gogh.

I think that in our times, sometimes recognition is expected for not enough effort, perseverance or commitment. Shortcuts aren’t great for long-term success or stability in any area of life. Goodness knows how many member of the Cirque must have thought about giving up, because of the effort required or the choices they have to make about work and life. But, at some point, they’ve decisions to keep going and trying and performing. Now they have the recognition of achieving expertise, entertaining thousands and doing what they love at the highest levels.

Are there any areas of life where you are expecting ‘recognition’ without the effort? Do you expect praise, reward and reciprocity where none perhaps is really due, because the ‘work’ and effort hasn’t been put in?  Is this hampering your enthusiasm for the task at hand – e.g. whether it is pursuing a project, getting fit or your what you expect, or hope for, from the people in your life?  How can you change this so that there is a proper balance between effort, ‘reward’ and recognition?


Finally, but by no means least, the Cirque obviously enjoyed their work and whist their craft requires intense commitment to do it well, I’m guessing they also need to know how to relax, have fun, not take themselves so seriously, so that they could ease into the roles and also actually entertain the audience.  No one wants to see robots and automatons. Empathy with others is important whatever line of work you’re doing, and with the people in and around your life. All that intense focus, discipline and focus can be extremely liberating as your pursue your goals and life plan, but can also dry you up and make you deeply unattractive if you tend to take yourself too seriously. Like Jim Rohn said, “beware of what you become in pursuit of what you want. Don’t sell out. Don’t sell out your principles. Don’t compromise your values. Because you might acquire something by doing so, but it won’t taste good.”

Nobody likes a pompous self-important ass, and arrogance is deeply off-putting! Know when to chill out and laugh at life and at yourself. Are there areas where the pursuit of your goals or your own life has cut you off from being able to have fun, or from the people and friends who you care about? Is there an imbalance between what you’re pursuing and other areas of your life and mental, physical or emotional well being? Have a rethink about what your values are or were, and whether you’re really living up to them? What can you practically do of get that balance back in life?

  1. like this post: the FUN bit is my priority: having pretty much adhere to the other 6 most of my life…at times not realising the fun was in the work…but as a rule: if it aint fun? I aint doin it!

    LOVE the JIm Rohn quote

    • Thanks. I agree.I think it gotta be enjoyable.You learn easier and I think if more relaxed and having ‘fun’ its easier to gain new insights or flashes of inspiration!Less likely to walk away as well an stick at something. Paul

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