On Monday, our son Sam celebrated his sixteenth birthday by jumping out of a plane. He had been planning it for months and two of his cousins agreed to jump too; it was a family event.
You might wonder, “Why would anyone jump out of a plane?” Sam, Jim, and Sarah’s motivations weren’t clear when they were suiting up. They were guessing how free-falling would feel. Would there be a sinking feeling in their stomachs like a roller coaster or would it feel like they were on a blanket of air? They seemed to be excited by the unknown, unconcerned that they didn’t know what they were about to experience. The only thing they knew for certain was that it would be amazing.
I was struck by their confidence and the similarities between sky diving and leading change. Dan Rockwell said, “Confidence is a product of knowing what to do next.” I like this quote and feel that the main benefit of my book is building people’s confidence to navigate (and lead) change by helping them decide what to do next. The sky diving experience suggests that it is not enough to help leaders find answers: they must also believe they have the ability to do so. Leaders must do far more than “paint by numbers”: they must paint new, powerful paintings. The confidence mindset is essential for long-term success.
All three jumpers were ecstatic about their experiences. Apparently you don’t get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you free-fall or feel like you are on a blanket of air. They were united in wanting to jump again. Sky diving and leading change can be addictive.
When the Skydive Toronto videographer asked Sam why he was jumping, he said, “I am looking for the thrill.” The next question was “How do you think it’s going to be?” and Sam replied, “Great.” These answers are similar to a leader of change saying, “I am excited about building a new organization. I am not sure exactly what it will look like but I know it will be great.” Two examples of the confidence mindset.
I will re-read my manuscript to ensure I reinforce a confidence mindset. They can last forever. I will also say to Sam again how proud I am of him and his leadership abilities.