Having said that, it is not a complicated sport and there is something we can all take away from it in terms of doing well in our daily lives. Follow the process of an actual jump in terms of preparation and process to see if you can relate to the analogy.
Whilst sitting in the back of the plane during the 15-minute climb to altitude, I have a routine that I NEVER change prior to going out the door. For the first 10 minutes I like to have a little snooze, being a middle aged old fart these days. However, at about 10,000 feet with 5 minutes to go, I wake myself up, get my head clear and use the time left to focus on and prepare for the forthcoming jump.
I religiously check and touch tap my gear in a fixed routine, chest strap secure, leg straps secure, rip cord where I last remember it, helmet secure, goggles on, altimeter reading the same as most people around me. Pins in the parachute still in place, its never cool to have your main canopy deploy in the doorway. You end up getting sucked out of the aircraft at huge speed, annoying the hell out of the pilot when you end up tangled around his tail plane.
I then close my eyes and go through the exact drills that I will follow in the event on an emergency. I physically touch all the appropriate handles and mime going through the actions of cutting away my defective rig and deploying my reserve. This is an action I want to be instinctive and embedded as muscle memory, given the fact that on the occasion that I use the drills for real, time will undoubtedly be at a premium.
Having gone through this routine, I then shuffle to the door with a few of my dysfunctional friends and watch the light at the side of the door. At red the door is flung open and at 14,000 feet a lot of very cool air rushes in. At this point the time for any last minute adjustments is genuinely over. You are leaving with the current level of preparation you have take the time to invest in. Everyone fixates on the light and at green, you go, no hesitation. If you hesitate for even a quarter of a second on exit, you will be completely alone in a large expanse of sky.
If successful, you find yourself for a magically brief period of time flying with your team through a series of formations. You may be doing a 4 way, 8 way, flying in formation in wing suits or simply savouring the joy of fooling around in the air. This is the moment that makes the sport so utterly addictive.
Once airborne (a figure of speech) life is remarkably simple, freefall for approximately 50 seconds. Breakaway from the group, wave off and pull the ripcord by 3000 feet. Check the parachute has deployed (if not refer to my opening paragraphs!) then fly a safe pattern to your landing site, avoiding all other people and obstacles before executing a safe landing.
My point in this story is that if you re-read this article, note how much time is spent in preparation compared to the execution. I haven’t even mentioned the time and care spent inspecting and packing the rig prior to the flight or the planning of the manoeuvres.
The truly great thing about skydiving is once you leave that door, you are totally committed. There is no other option but to complete those actions and you would be highly foolhardy to leave the building without a reserve plan!
Now take our skydiving world and the attitude it takes in order to have a successful day (having an unsuccessful day in the world of parachuting can be a bit terminal!). Walk to the door of your house and ask yourself, are you prepared? Have you covered off the essential drills that will see you through your working day and the challenges you know it holds?
Define only the essential drills that you have to complete in order to have a successful day. In skydiving, we work very hard to make sure students learning the sport are never over burdened with irrelevant information. We want them focused purely on what they need to know in order to perform a jump safely. Any extraneous information would clutter their minds and distract them at critical moments.
Could you apply the disciplines discussed above to your day, ensuring there are no distractions that will prevent you from achieving what you had originally set out to do? How much of your precious time is lost to distractions? The ability to focus to this standard is a highly effective skill/discipline to have and one that we find most “Performance Orientated People” instinctively possess.
Make sure you have a reserve plan for when your main canopy gets tangled and continue to drive towards your pre planned objectives – never go anywhere without a reserve, or Plan B as we like to call it!
Then step out the door and fly a committed day without distractions. Land at home on time feeling fulfilled and contented– don’t try to freefall for 14 hours trying to look busy (this never works!!) and most importantly of all, have a great day!!