Friday, February 8, 2013
Leaps of Faith
If you choose the accelerated free fall option (as opposed to tandem), then you spend the first 8 hours training, learning, practicing, and familiarizing yourself with the process of skydiving. It's still very theoretical at this point, much like those early days before your first lean conversion, when you're reading the books, attending the seminars, putting implementation plans together and so forth.
Then comes the moment when all the training is done and it's time to board the plane. There's nothing much you can do during the ascent but think about all that training and practice and hope that they pay off when the time comes. Remember the night before that first big lean transformation event? No matter how meticulously you prepared, there was still that nagging worry and uncertainty.
Next comes the real moment of truth - exiting the aircraft. This the boundary between preparation and action, between the theoretical and the very, very real. There's no climbing back in the airplane once you're out. There's no more apt analogy here than the leap of faith. You must have faith in your preparation and in your cause to make that leap. Once you've demolished the old process there's no going back. This lean thing better work.
Upon exiting the aircraft you're hit immediately with sensory overload. The noise of the wind rushing past is deafening, and the feeling of weightlessness is disorienting. But you have just seconds to snap out of it. There's a lot to do in 55 seconds at 120 miles per hour. The first thing you're required to do is to check and call out your altitude. This lets the instructors know that you aren't panicking and that you're aware of your situation. Just like in those first few confusing and chaotic hours and days after a lean conversion, when it's so critical to keep your eyes on the key process indicators and not to panic.
The next thing you have to do it called practice handle touches (PTH's). This lets the instructors know that you remember your training and that you won't freeze up when the time comes. Three PTH's help reinforce the motion in your brain so that it's easier to do when it counts. In addition, all throughout the free fall you're receiving feedback on and correcting your body position. This is vital to maintaining a stable free fall and not tumbling wildly out of control to your inevitable death. This reminds us of how important it is to practice the basics, like following standard work, especially in the early days of a lean conversion. Minor adjustments are inevitable, but they should be based on sound fundamentals.
At last the moment comes when you reach 5000 feet and pull your chute. The curtain of noise is instantly lifted. The feeling of hurtling through the air is replaced by gentle floating, and you breathe a huge sigh of relief. But after a few seconds you realize that you're not home yet and you still have work to do. You have to fly your parachute, or you'll end up in a some corn field or fertilization pond. Although there's usually not such a violent transition in lean conversions, there is that moment when you see it all come together for the first time and you realize that this actually works.
Flying your parachute is surprisingly easy. You reach up and find the toggles. Pull down slightly on the left toggle and you start to turn left. Pull down on the right toggle and you go right. Your lean conversion has created a more responsive process, and you're discovering how to pull the levers you need to adjust the output.
Of course this is where the similarities end. After a few more minutes the skydive is over, and you're touching down gracefully in the landing field. A lean conversion however never ends. But the leap of faith it took to get you here is no less rewarding.
Posted by Evan Durant at 8:00 AM