As someone who once (and only once) jumped out of a plane, I appreciate a good skydiving story. On an episode of The Larry Miller Show podcast, comedian and actor Larry Miller discussed a friend of his who recently took a one-day skydiving course. Right before boarding the plane for the big jump, the instructor gave the class some “inspirational” words of wisdom.
The instructor told them that if at first their parachute doesn’t open, don’t panic, try pulling it again. If that doesn’t work, try a third time. If that doesn’t work, try pulling the emergency chute because this one always works. However, if it doesn’t, take a deep breath and try again. If that doesn’t work, try the regular chute again. “When you are 1,000, 500, 50 feet from the ground,” the instructor said, “I want to see you continuing to pull that cord.”
This may not comfort you before a skydiving adventure, but it’s just the advice we need before beginning a workplace adventure. When creating, introducing, or rolling out a new initiative, perseverance is an essential ingredient in success. We can’t bail whenever its not going quite as expected, otherwise nothing will ever be accomplished.
Go into every challenge with the understanding that you will not fail; you will continue pulling that cord until the very end. As the skydiving instructor said, when unforeseen events happen, 1) remain calm, panicking will only cloud your thoughts and accelerate your descent. Then 2) attempt every imaginable way to get it done. Unlike a skydiver, you aren’t alone so rely on your support structure for help.