How Dick Fosbury revolutionized the high jump and what it means for your finances today

You may have never heard about Dick Fosbury, but his willingness to think outside the box revolutionized the track and field high jump competition. Prior to Fosbury the predominant method used by jumpers was something known as the “straddle method“. Jumpers would try to straddle the bar jumping face down and sideways over the bar. It was the conventional approach that almost all jumpers used.

Thinking outside the box

Fosbury determined to find a better way. He experimented with different techniques and some have said in the early days he appeared to be suffering a mid-air seizure as he attempted to cross the bar. Eventually, he settled on a technique where he would turn his back to the bar just as he got to it and then jumped backwards over the bar kicking his legs up at the last instant to clear the bar. The technique required him to jump backwards and headfirst over the bar.

Many thought the technique was dangerous. Others doubted that he could ever be successful. Even his freshman track coach at Oregon State insisted that he practice the more conventional straddle method, although he did relent and allow him to use his new methods in meets. When he shattered the school record with a jump of 6’10” during his sophomore his coach finally gave in and accepted that this new technique which became known as the “Fosbury Flop” might actually have merit.

In 1968, Fosbury won the conference title and then an NCAA championship in the high jump. He went on to attempt to qualify for the Olympic team. Many were skeptical if he could produce the same results at the high altitude of Mexico City where the 1968 games were to be held. He proved his doubters wrong though with a jump of 7 feet 4 1/4 inches which broke the US and Olympic records and gave Fosbury the gold medal. It changed the world of high jumping forever as the “Fosbury Flop” became the technique that nearly all jumpers use.

Don’t be like everyone else

You say, “Bob that’s a great, inspiring story but how does that change my finances?”

The point is Fosbury refused to just follow the crowd and do what everyone else did. He was willing to try something different even if it meant some wouldn’t understand. Even if some made fun of him and his coaches were slow to accept his ideas, he was willing to press ahead with what he knew he had to do to succeed.

I think the same is true for your financial situation today. I believe one reason why so many people struggle financially is because they just stumble along doing what every one else is doing. Normal finances for most people today is broke and up to our eyeballs in debt.

We buy a new car every 3 or 4 years because that’s what everyone else does. We believe the lie that you’ll always have a car payment.

Our kids graduate from college with thousands of dollars in debt because no one can get a degree without student loans.

We live our life on credit cards because that’s what all our friends do. After all “Life takes VISA” right?

We struggle getting by from one paycheck to the next, never saving much, never really making much progress because we are drowning in debt.

Sounds familiar? It is the story for far too many. For many years it was my story too.

Be willing to be different

But what if you decided to live a different way.

  • What if you were were willing to sacrifice in the short-term so that you could succeed in the long-term?
  • What if for a time you were willing to get a second or a third job to really go after that debt?
  • What if you were willing to drive a clunker for a few years so that later you could drive in style with cash?
  • What if you decided that you were no longer going to play around with credit cards and determined that if you didn’t have the cash that meant you couldn’t afford it and had to say no to yourself?
  • What if you were to live on a spending plan so you were prioritizing what you did with your money instead of just gliding along allowing life to happen to you?
  • What if you decided that your debts never brought blessings to your life and you were determined to do whatever it took to have a different life?
  • What if you decided that the writer of Proverbs was right when he said “The borrower is a slave to the lender”?

If you did that would everyone understand? Might some think that you went off the deep end? Sure, just like many questioned Dick Fosbury when he was willing to go against “What everyone else was doing”, there may be some people in your life who will wonder what you are doing.

But if you want a different life than the average person who is struggling with debt, you need to be willing to do something different than the average person.

I’m not suggesting living like a miser of the rest of your life. That’s not healthy either. But you may need to sacrifice deeply for a short time so that you can get yourself to a point where those sacrifices are no longer necessary and you do the things you dream about.

You can do it! We did. Is it easy to pay off debt? Of course not. It’s hard. But anytime you step out and decide to do things different than all those around you, you will face struggles. But just like those struggles led Dick Fosbury to the gold medal platform in Mexico City in 1968, I believe you will find the sacrifices worth it in your financial situation too!

If you’d like to talk further about what steps you can take to get out of debt and start living a different life, contact me. I’d be happy to talk to you.

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