Lessons social media practitioners can learn from gymnasts: Part II

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Last week in Part I of my blog, I shared four lessons social media practitioners can learn from gymnasts. Before I continue with the remaining four, I want to congratulate the U.S. women’s gymnastics team for winning gold, Gabby Douglas for the all-around gold and Danell Leyva for the all-around bronze medal. [Note: At the time of writing this post, medals in the event finals had not yet been awarded.]

Practice: Despite all the visualization, there will be times that you will need to remedy a situation or just go with the flow. That’s where practice comes in. Practicing a skill over and over will help you handle unexpected situations. The same is true for social media. The more you practice, the “smoother” your interactions will become, the faster you will recover and the less you will panic.

Experiment: Gymnasts have a ton of courage and an insatiable drive to learn and improve. Without experimentation, there would be no new skills and the sport would become stagnant. “When [Nadia] Comaneci scored a perfect 10.0 on the uneven bars [at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal], her big skill was a handstand…In the 2008 Olympics, top athletes… performed high-flying release moves, one-handed pirouettes and flipped or twisted two rotations in the dismount (, “The History of Women’s Gymnastics”).

I’m sure you can see how this relates to social media. Experimentation should always be encouraged. Besides your own ideas, be sure to look to other companies, individuals, industries, segments, platforms and countries for inspiration. It helps move this discipline forward, push the vendors to deliver the next generation of tools and resources, connect with your customers in unique and meaningful ways, and ultimately differentiate yourself from the competition.

Mistakes: Mistakes in gymnastics are inevitable. When gymnasts fall off an apparatus, they quickly get up and continue on. In the corporate world, mistakes are oftentimes looked upon negatively. We want to talk about our successes much more than about our failed attempts, because that’s what’s expected of us. We need to change our way of thinking about mistakes. They will happen. It’s our ability to recover as quickly and as gracefully as possible that will make the difference. The lesson to be learned from gymnasts is that if you fail, learn from your mistakes, correct them quickly and try again.
Leaves: The definition of a “leave” in gymnastics is, “Once the gymnast knows the technique for each event, it’s a matter of working hard enough and leaving everything on the floor in practice and not holding anything back (, “What Are Leaves in Gymnastics?”). To do so, they have to put their hearts and souls into the skill or routine they’re performing.

Just like you do. Give it everything you’ve got and be authentic.

These are the key lessons I think gymnasts can teach the world of social media. What’s your favorite sport or exercise and what can social media practitioners learn from it? I’d love to hear from you.

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