- Above All Else book, achieving your dreams, creating champions, facing your fears, General, motivation, overcoming obstacles, peak performance
Recently I was presented with the opportunity of a life time, a chance I never thought I’d have, literally a dream come true. It’s hard to believe but I almost said “no”.
This year I attended my 32nd US National Skydiving Championships. In an earlier life I dedicated years to excelling in Formation Skydiving competition. I loved it, the speed, the flying, and the communication with the team as we move in perfect synchronicity with each other. It’s fantastic. In 1999 my team Arizona Airspeed won the 8-Way World Championship and I retired from full time team training. Since then I’ve never missed a Nationals. I still go for the brotherhood, to see the new and old teams, and to jump with some of my former teammates and get a little reminder of skydiving at that level.
The US Army Golden Knights are the current 8-Way World Champions. They are smoother, cleaner and faster than we ever were. Sometime around 2009 they surpassed Arizona Airspeed’s best performance and they’ve never looked back. I’ve been watching them in awe ever since, imagining how incredible it would be to fly like they do.
This past US Nationals I was driving back to the hotel one afternoon when I received a phone call from Larry Miller, one of the Golden Knights. To my complete surprise he asked me if I’d like to come back to the drop zone and do an 8-way jump with the Knights!
For a second I thought it was a joke and someone was screwing with me. When I realized it was really Larry and he was serious I asked him when he wanted to do the jump and he said “right now”.
Right now!!?? I am being given a chance to jump with the Golden Knights right now??!! Right this second?? A chance I’ve always wished for and will probably never have again?? What an amazing opportunity!!
Before I could even respond I was bombarding myself with all sorts of reasons not to do the jump. “I can’t jump with the Knights”. “I’m not good enough.” “I’m not fast enough.” “I’m too old and slow.” “I’ll completely embarrass myself and it will be on video for the world to see.”
After listening to that punk in my head (yeah, me) I finally came to my senses and told myself, “Shut up and say YES!” Of course the answer is yes!! Was I nuts? The Knights were handing me the opportunity of a life time and I’m considering saying “no” because I’m worried about embarrassing myself?
What a complete wuss I was for even thinking to say no. “Yes!” The answer is “yes”, of course it’s “yes”! I nearly wrecked the car spinning around to head back.
I ran on to the drop zone like a little kid at Christmas. Excited, scared, nervous, excited. We did the jump and it was fantastic, everything that I could possibly have hoped for it to be. I couldn’t believe “no” had ever occurred to me.
This reminded me of when I was asked to do a TED talk in Antwerp, Belgium. I nearly said “no” to that for the same weak, fearful, wimpy ass reasons as the jump with the Knights. I’m so glad I didn’t. The TED talk was an amazing experience for me and I learned so much by doing it.
Every truly great opportunity comes with lots of risk and reasons to say “no”.
Know when to say “yes”.
To see the jump and an article about it click on this link: http://www.skyleague.com/pages/news/showArticles.php?story=150310