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3 Lessons Learned From a Failed Jump

3 Lessons Learned From a Failed Jump

3 Lessons Learned From a Failed Jump

On April 5, 1988, an experienced skydiving videographer was filming an instructor and first-time student as they skydived from approximately 10,000 feet. The videographer had made two successful jumps earlier that day. With technology what it was back then, the recording equipment the videographer used was a heavy VHS deck stored in a backpack that he wore. The camera was unlike the smaller GoPro style cameras used today but was nonetheless mounted to his helmet in order to capture all the action.

The videographer was the first to jump from the plane followed by the instructor and student. All seemed to be in order. Shortly after filming the other skydivers for a brief period and hurtling toward the ground at 150 mph, the videographer attempted to deploy his parachute only to discover he wasn't wearing one. 

The videographer was a veteran skydiver who had made over 800 jumps in his career. Strapping on a parachute would only seem natural to the casual observer. By those who knew the videographer and those present that day, it is believed his preoccupation with the recording equipment, the weight of the equipment itself, and fatigue caused him to lose focus and fail to properly prepare. The videographer free fell nearly two miles and as a result of his improper preparation, he tragically lost his life.

While most leaders and business people don't find themselves in this kind of life and death scenario, there are some important lessons that can be learned from this story.

Repetition Can Create a Lack of Focus
When doing the same thing over and over again it's easy to lose focus on what's important. A skydiver with 800 jumps could almost fold and pack a parachute blindfolded. Strapping on a parachute before entering the plane is second nature to the veteran skydiver. Yet, from time to time, we learn of these unbelievable stories of someone failing to remember the most basic necessity of skydiving, the parachute. 

What is the repetitive action in your occupation or business that you run the risk of forgetting to do? Is it failing to simply "ask" for the sale assuming the potential buyer will surrender to you at some point? Is it failing to prepare for the presentation that you've done a hundred times before? 

Preoccupation Can Ruin a Good Occupation
The National Science Foundation estimates the average person thinks thousands of thoughts per day. With that much inner traffic, it's easy to become distracted. Business owners and operators have much to think about and prepare for. 
With so much on their minds it's easy to become preoccupied with things that waste valuable time. It's critical to prioritize tasks to ensure the most important items get done first. To avoid becoming preoccupied with less important and irrelevant tasks, it's good to develop a daily plan of action. Whether one chooses to use an electronic planner, a written to-do list or a hybrid of both, developing a good system will ensure greater success.

Being Prepared is Not Just For Boy Scouts
Preparing for the task at hand is one of the most important aspects of successfully completing the task. Abraham Lincoln once said, "If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my ax." It's easy to take short cuts when it comes to doing things one has done over and over again. Winging it might work every now and then, but to expect great results, one must prepare for success. What's the goal of the event? What's the desired outcome for the meeting? What does a winning sales call entail? Proper vision, planning, and preparation will create higher rates of success.

Mark Turner is President/CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. After 20 years of sales and marketing, he left the corporate world and served 12 years in the ministry as an Associate Pastor before accepting his current position with the Chamber of Commerce.

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