Unlikely and Essential Links Among Gymnastics, Travel and the Art of Planning

As a teenage gymnast I was lucky enough to be an Olympic trialist. 

I was in the top 10 and that year New Zealand sent only one gymnast. Sadly it wasn’t me. My coach was John MacFarlane, who taught at the local boys high school, and I was the only girl in the gym club. John was an avid traveler and videographer and so, an important part of my training involved watching videos of the world’s greatest gymnasts – Vera Cavslavska and later the daring Natasha Kutchinskia. 

As well as watching videos of the greats, and practicing endless repetitions, John would encourage me to visualise myself doing every single aspect of a sequence. I would then draw a tiny picture of one aspect of each move. This required massive concentration, going over in my mind this reflective practice, making tiny drawings to jog my memory, then trying the move or sequence out in action the next day.

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What struck me then was that learning was not by memory – it involved several features. 

  •  Reflections
  • Imagining the future
  • Drawing or representing key moments
  • Being clear on results and
  • Implementing

These elements are featured in my planning for all the groups I lead. In strategy sessions with clients, I use miniature creatures to represent existing foundations, key stakeholder relationships and key moves the business will make.

The imagery is memorable making the plans more real and likely to be implemented.  

I have used this method of planning for travelling as well. 

I travel light, and that includes a minimum of 7 pairs of shoes no matter how long the trip. On a post-it note or similar piece of paper, I draw each piece of clothing I take.

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Similar to a mind map, I can immediately see combinations of clothes for every event and any omissions. Working this way, I have never left anything behind on my travels nor do I invest any time in shopping, or deciding what to wear.

This picture was a winter business trip to the US followed by a week’s holiday in warm Havana.

By visualising different situations I imagine I will be in, then drawing, I have a surefire way of rapid packing and travelling light. These plans take me about 6 to 7 minutes.

My business plans are similar; a mix of drawings and words.

Would this graphic approach work for you as you plan for 2020?

Diana Jones ©

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