Every now and then you hear a great one-liner that simply re-energizes your soul. My most recent experience of this was second-hand. It wasn’t from a famous speaker, teacher or preacher. Nor was it from a best-selling author (at least not yet!). It should be no surprise … it was from a 10-year-old.
My friends, Sam and Renee, recently went with their 10-year-old daughter, Catie, to “I FLY” (a new indoor skydiving simulation adventure). Renee enjoyed watching Sam and Catie rise to the challenge. The challenge proved to be an exhilarating experience for both of them. On the way out, Katie enthusiastically proclaimed, “I want to go real skydiving!” Renee, actually being quite an adventurous one herself, caved to her protective motherly instincts and reactively responded, “But Catie, what if the parachute doesn’t open?” Without hesitation Katie shrieked …
But what if it does!?!
Sam shared this story with a group of us at lunch. You could sense everyone at the table having the same surge of energy being reminded of the power of wonder. That’s what happens when we point to what’s possible!
It took me back to my own skydiving adventure when I was in my mid-twenties. We had chosen to take the “static line” approach where you jump by yourself on your very first fall. While I remember a few bruises from the repetitive practice falls off a 5-foot platform and my pounding heart as I sat in the plane waiting my turn … I most remember the exhilaration of the jump and the completely peaceful experience as the opened parachute carried me gracefully back to earth for a perfect landing. It was an experience unlike any I’d ever had.
Sam’s story sharped my focus on “what if it does” kind of thinking. It is precisely the energy that engages what’s possible. Our ability to imagine what is possible tills the soil long before anything is planted.
The vision of what’s possible is the seed for what’s probable.
Parachutes are intentionally designed, manufactured and then packed …. to open. Our diving instructor confidently reminded us of this. He quoted some vague study noting only 1 in 300,000 parachutes don’t open. He said the stat was actually a conservative estimate because after 300,000 consecutive successful openings they just quit testing and settled for that statistic. My recent Google search indicates he might have packed his stat a little for comfort, but the fact remains, the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor!
In my work with helping top executives engage in the impactful wonder of the strategic intersection of personal and organizational core values, I’m often met with a protective hesitance. When these execs are loaded down with a plethora of metrics, measurements, consultant methodologies, and a historical tendency to consider core values on the “softer side” … it’s convenient for them to focus on the strategic possibility that a parachute woven of core values may just not open.
This hesitance is totally understandable. Especially when there is a lack of historical context for them to understand this intersection of personal and organizational core values. Is there a slight possibility this parachute of core values won’t open? You bet. If the fabric of the parachute is flawed, if it isn’t packed correctly or if the lines get tangled … something could go wrong. But when packed correctly, used properly, and implemented with untangled lines of communication … the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor!
When my two friends and I ventured-out to the west of Houston on that early spring Saturday morning, we knew very little about parachuting. We had never experienced anything like it. We had no real reference point to fully understand the experience. Those practice jumps were both bruising and necessary, but revealed little of the adventure that actually awaited us. We had to take the plunge without a complete understanding. We simply anticipated what might be possible.
Little did we know it would be more than we ever imagined.
I do know this … diving without a parachute is, for sure, a bad thing waiting to happen. Guaranteed. Relying on all the measurements, methodologies and historical reference points can serve a real purpose. Yet, they can also weight you down. They can keep you from flying … and ultimately from taking an adventurous dive. A dive into the values of our core can be just as adventurous. Like a parachute … the intersection of our personal and organizational core values is designed to open.
We can cloud our vision of what is possible by focusing on the slight chance it won’t open. Or we can dive for what is probable, although not fully understandable, by focusing on the wonder of … what if it does!
I have no doubt that little Catie will be doing a real skydive someday. I’m also thinking she is going to make a tremendous leader!
Watch for the release of John’s newest book, ROI: Return on Integrity, on April 19, 2016 … The New Definition of ROI and Why Leaders Need to Know It!