Be careful when you ask your 18-year-old son what he would like for his high school graduation gift… he just may ask you to take him sky diving. That’s what my son did just a few weeks ago and, before I knew it, I was crouching in the open doorway of a small airplane at 10,000 feet looking down at the ground.
Fortunately, I was attached to an experienced skydiver with 2,000 jumps to his credit. But that didn’t prepare me for the sensation when we made the leap out of the plane. The sensation is almost impossible to describe accurately and it was like nothing that I could have anticipated. Let’s just say it was a mix of, “Am I really doing this? What the hell was I thinking? This is incredible!” and, “If I live through this I am doing it again” … all in slow motion.
A very interesting part of the experience was that at no time was I nervous or had second thoughts and after my son and I shared our experiences we summed it up the same way. My tandem diver’s name was Kyle and my son’s was Vinny. Each had very difference personalities and jump styles but both demonstrated very similar characteristics that completely calmed our nerves and allowed us to have one of the best experiences of our lives.
The first step after we arrived at the air field was to visit the “waiver room” which was 15 minutes of completing paperwork and listening to a video of a lawyer telling you that if you die, or get hurt, you can’t sue the company…. blah, blah, blah … time to move on to the fun stuff.
Within minutes we were greeted by our tandem divers with a smile, friendly handshake, and a semi-formal approach. We were suited up with our jump gear and then given a some very simple instructions on “what to do” and “what not to do.” The anticipation started to build and then it was time to board the plane. One of the last things Kyle said before we headed toward the plane was, “I better get my parachute.” Good idea Kyle!
Kyle and Vinny demonstrated a valuable lesson that is an imperative for skydiving but also applies well in the business world. No matter how hard you try, you can’t force people to trust you or to follow you. It is something that is earned and, amazingly, they both made it happen in a very short period of time.
Aside from making sure we touched down safely, they had to create an atmosphere that inspired us and struck the ideal balance between seriousness and fun. It’s not as easy as it sounds and I am sure it was an intentional effort that came with some practice.
How did they do it?
In making my point, it would be unfair to ignore the fact that it was our idea to take the leap, so a good part of their job was already done, but the experience would not have been complete without…
Although I don’t recommend skydiving as a routine form of leadership training, there are valuable lessons to be learned from the process. Building trust is the foundation for any successful relationship: personal, professional, or transactional. If my son and I had felt any sense of doubt, it would have made the experience much less memorable and wouldn’t have left us considering how to become professional skydivers.
As you begin to wrap up your goals for 2016, consider how implementing trust within your team, department, and organization can accelerate success in 2017.
SKYE Business Solutions helps leaders discover their purpose: the driving force behind your organization’s ability to achieve. Purpose empowers leaders to recognize value; creating a culture of engagement, contribution, and trust. SKYE propels your leadership to the next level: pushing through the ordinary to unlock the full potential throughout all levels of your organization.