The time: February 1999
The place: Wanaka, New Zealand
The event: Falling out of an aeroplane… on purpose
It was at the latter end of my “world” tour travels that I arrived in the Wanaka region of South Island in New Zealand. Having had no desire to do a bungee jump I flipped through a list of alternative “sports” or “adrenaline junkie” activities I could try… and came across tandem skydiving.
The decision was relatively easy. Sure, I ummed and ahhed for a few days. I think another name for it is plucking up courage.
Once my mind was made up I made the call and booked.
For reasons I cannot explained other than pure curiosity, I’d always wanted to know what it would be like to fall out of a plane (on purpose, of course).
This was my opportunity to find out.
The big day arrived. I checked in, changed into my falling-out-of-a-plane gear and watched a short training video and then it was time to head for the plane.
Forget your Jumbo jets or typical airline cruiser. This was a small propellor-driven craft with a roll-up canvas door and no seats in the back, just a long stretch of cushioned mats to sit on.
I was going up (and without question coming down) with a tourist from Japan. We each had our own instructor, to whom we would be attached via giant D-rings and harness. We just sat and waited for take off.
Now, however brave you might have been at the time of booking, there is no doubt that upon take off it suddenly dawns on you precisely what you have let yourself in for. You’ve allowed a plane to carry you up to an altitude of around 10,000 ft, your instructor to roll open the canvas door, and your body to be placed on the edge of the plane, half in half out.
“Enough to hold an elephant” I thought I heard earlier above the plane’s engine noise. It was the instructor. Telling me how strong the d-rings and secured fixings were that bound me to him. I knew I’d put on a bit of weight but the remark seemed a little harsh. I let it slide. After all, this guy now had my life in his hands.
After a bit of scenic ascending, circling and pilot “tour guide” chat about the beautiful lakes region below, with the sharp blue water contrasting with the earthy browns, greens and reds of the mountains…. it was time.
This was a leap of faith.
My life was now in the hands of a person I’d met just 20 minutes earlier.
Securely fastened to the instructor, I now sat in front of him, my back close to his chest (as if we were lining up on the nightclub floor for a very poorly-turned out “rowing crew” of clubbers getting ready to do the actions to The Gap Band’s funky tune “Oops Up Side Your Head”).
I listened to every instruction.
Swing my legs out of the door so I’m facing out into the sky. Bend my knees up behind me and raise my head up, to create a “banana” shape with my body. Tuck my arms in and grip my front straps.
Count 3, count 2, count 1 and then say “Banana” – the code word for roll forward out of the plane.
I did as I was told (guessing there wasn’t much choice because if the instructor had given me a nudge I’d have been out of the plane, with him attached, as easy as ice cream sliding off a heated spoon).
My mind and body tried to adjust to this new experience called gravity.
I could see sky, sky, sky and then ground, ground, ground. The noise of the air, buffeting my whole body like a group of hairdryers on maximum cool burst, filled my ears so I barely heard my instructor shout “You can say something if you like” and I just let out a huge ‘WooooooHooo!”
The descent, even at this high altitude, felt FAST! Horizontally aligned I could see the wide scape of the region and country below and though it seemed like minutes had passed, in just 30 seconds or so after falling out I felt myself being yanked back up towards the plane at incredible speed. It was just an illusion. The parachute had opened. Our descent had slowed.
There was now time to look around with more focus (and a sense of relief) and take in the contours of the land and the colours of the lake-laden region below. Absolutely beautiful.
Nearer the ground, the instructors brought myself and my fellow Japanese jumper close enough so we could wave to each other – and so he could take a photo of me.
And still time for some aerobatic tight turns and circles before we came into land.
The ground in the last 50 feet or so really does rush toward you but I’d remembered my training and simply raised my legs and within a few seconds we’d landed as if I’d just been deposited in a seated position.
The adrenaline kick was amazing. We both wanted to go up again.
Sometimes fear gets a grip of you and you make up what the end result is going to be.
But I took a leap of faith.
I placed my life and my future in the hands of an expert who knew exactly what he was doing.
And the result was brilliant.
What has all this got to do with marketing your business?
When was the last time you stopped hoping and praying, the last time you took a leap of faith, the last time you placed your success in the hands of an expert?
And if you’ve never done so, when will you?