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What A New Trampoline Assembly Taught Me About Following Directions

My girls have wanted a trampoline for as long as I can remember. So I decided it was finally time to buy them one.

It arrived around 8 PM, and my youngest daughter wanted me to spend all night in the back yard setting it up. After a few minutes of negotiating, "it will be ready by the time you get home from camp tomorrow." became an acceptable time frame.

Now, to make it clear, I don't get paid to install trampolines. I get paid to run my business, which I had a full day of ahead of me, so I decided to start putting some of the pieces together after she went to bed. The directions were clear, and about 50% of the work was done before I went to bed. One more hour of installation and it would be ready for bouncing. Everyone would be happy!

Or so I thought.

I had an early morning meeting, but got back to my house around 10 AM to start the approximate remaining hour of assembly. Done by 11, camps over at 2...plenty of time. I even enlisted some help from my dad to speed up the job.

Three quarters of the way through, all that was left was to put up the poles that hold the netting in place. I sent dad home, and figured I could knock this out in 15 minutes. Some of you obviously see where this is going already.

The poles didn't line up.

Now, I will accept the fact that most people reading this have not installed a trampoline, but let me tell you...every mistake you have to correct involves unfastening about 10,000 springs, and then re-attaching them.

I looked at the directions, complained to my wonderful wife for a while about it being crap, posted a photo to my instagram of me pretending to light it on fire. I had followed the directions to a "T" and it still wasnt lining up. I had unfastened the springs twice and refastened them TWICE! What was happening here.

Finally, I took a step back and re-read the instructions. It turned out that I was trying to correct the wrong thing, and, had I just taken a logical look at it, I probably could have figured it out pretty easily. When I found the step I had been ignoring and performing incorrectly, which was in front of me the whole time, the thing went together as easily as I had thought it would have.

What I thought would be done by 11, was completed by 2:30. My beautiful, wonderful wife drove the kids around for about 30 minutes to let me finish so I held up my end of the deal. Everyone was happy. I felt like an idiot, but figured it all out.

So what did I learn here?

1. Proper Preparation Is Key In Everything - Putting together some of the easy stuff the night before did two things. First, it cut the work in half. Second, and more importantly, it committed me to doing it in the next day or two. What made that commitment stronger was making a deal with my daughter to get it done. Ever woken up in the morning and not had your workout gear ready to go? Ever decide to just sleep in and workout later? Yup. This applies to everything. Proper preparation promotes peak performance. Committing to someone helps too.

2. Its OK To Complain - We all need to vent sometimes. BUT, then we need to get to work. When things don't go your way, vent to the people you need to vent to, then move on and get the job done. Nobody wants to hear someone complain and then do nothing.

3. Follow The Directions - It's amazing how one small step (which was just a small quarter turn of something) can make a huge difference. Think of your favorite food. Too much salt...its bad. Too much sugar...its bad. Too little of those two things, you still dont enjoy it as much. Some things in life have an exact recipe. Sure, now that I know how to assemble a trampoline, I might be able to take more liberties with in what order and how I follow the instructions. Truth be told, I think there IS a better way to do it. Do it the way the instructions say the first time. Then adapt once you know what you are doing. This applies to nutrition plans, exercise plans, financial plans, etc. Tell an expert your goal, have them put a plan together, follow it.

4. Step Back And Learn - Sometimes you need to take a step back and use common sense. If I had lost the instructions, I could have figured it out. My emotions were getting in the way. Clear your head. Do something else for 5 minutes and then get back to it with a fresh perspective. There is always a way to get things done.


Those are the 4 main lessons I learned (aside from my daughter teaching me a few flips) from assembling a trampoline in my back yard. How can you apply one of these tips to something going on in your life right now?

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