Starting a Business

How Taking Up Skydiving Has Helped Me Become More Successful in Business

How Taking Up Skydiving Has Helped Me Become More Successful in Business
Image credit: Sujan Patel

As an entrepreneur, it’s hard to pull away from the business you’ve put your heart into. Recently, though, I’ve been stepping away from my job and my business from time to time to take up a new hobby: skydiving.

Since starting up, I’ve found that I’ve learned several things from my adventures flying through the air that have helped me become more successful in business.

Preparation is key to success.

The saying “fail to plan and plan to fail” is even truer then you realize. Suiting up to jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet teaches you the importance of preparation better than any business class can.

First, you have to make sure that the conditions are favorable for a jump. You have check that your chute is set right, your backup chute is packed (and the automatic activation device is active to open your backup chute if something goes wrong in the air), and your harness is on correctly. Then, of course, there’s the training -- before you can jump solo, you have to do at least 25 jumps to get your A license. The entire process prepares you to skydive safely.

Leave any of these things carelessly to the wind (pardon the pun) and you’ll find yourself having a rough day in the air -- at best. As a result, you learn pretty quickly to prepare carefully and look everything over before you ever leave the ground for a jump.

Related: 5 Lessons for Entrepreneurs From the Man Who Completed 50 Ironman Triathlons in 50 Days

Know what to do in case of disaster (but anticipate success).

Things can go wrong, and that’s true of both business and skydiving (though the consequences of one of these failures can be far more severe). But if you know how to handle these emergencies, you don’t have to spend time worrying about what you’ll do if they actually happen.

You learn how to hold your arms during your jump. You’re taught what to think when you start to freeze up. You’re trained how to deal with the worst case scenarios. Why? Because once you’ve internalized these processes, you can enjoy the actual jump, instead of the swarming thoughts that try to steal your excitement.

Disasters can happen, but you learn to keep your mind positive. “You are what you think” is even more true than “you are what you eat.”

The importance of punching fear in the face.

Fear keeps us from doing things we’d otherwise enjoy. Even worse, there are things out there -- great things -- that you don’t think you can do or that you won’t even consider doing. Whether it’s launching a new business in a crowded marketplace or taking up a hobby such as skydiving, they seem absurd. Why?

Because fear can keep you from even starting to think about doing something great. You can’t kill fear. Even if you defeat it once, it’ll show up again and again. You can learn to punch fear though. Punch it in the nose so hard it bleeds and has to run to get a tissue before it can come back.

So you want to jump, start a new business, go skydiving, open a new location. How do you punch fear in the face?

Related: 10 Things Entrepreneurs and Military Pilots Have in Common

By doing whatever you’re afraid of anyway. It’s not easy. For skydivers, the first jump is always the hardest. After you break fear’s nose one time, it’s easier to break it again. And it isn’t just the first time. I try to go skydiving once a month, but even that first jump back is pretty nerve-wracking. Fear isn’t a one-time thing -- just like it isn’t in business or any other venture.

I remember my first jump. I was terrified. But I’d simply had enough of fear. I showed up, got through the training and boarded the plane with the team. As I jumped and opened my parachute, I punched fear in the face and watched it hurl itself to the ground. I’ll never forget the way it felt, and that’s a lesson I try to apply in both my personal and professional lives.

Get a coach.

One of the most important lessons I learned from skydiving was the importance of having a coach. Coaches can shorten the amount of time it takes to master a new skill. They know how to deal with tough situations, because they’ve seen it all, and they can help you do the same.

Finding and working with a qualified coach is well worth the cost, as a good coach can help you take to new heights, whether in business or in the skies.

Enjoy every moment.

There’s nothing like the freedom that comes from jumping out of a plane and looking out at the world beneath you on the way down to the ground. Believe me, I’ve done a lot of thrilling things -- from car racing to MMA fighting. There’s simply no rush out there like skydiving.

In your business ventures, once you’ve prepared, looked over your plans, gathered your team, found others you can trust, punched fear in the face and decide to leap, take a moment to enjoy the feeling of success. The reason we all work hard is for the reward that comes with it. Once you’ve put in the time, it’s your right -- and your obligation -- to enjoy the benefits of your venture.

When are you going to make the jump?

Related: What Being Punched in the Face Taught Me About Business