You may know that in the past I have thrown myself out of a perfectly serviceable aeroplane (twice). It was a while ago, I’m not planning on repeating it.

We did all the ‘book’ training:

  • Fold your arms across your chest
  • Look up
  • Jump
  • Check for an open chute (!)
  • Find the landing field marked with a giant X
  • Navigate with small adjustments of the chute handles
  • Land on the X
  • Gather your chute
  • Beer

But the main drill was about the landing, it’s really quite important:

  1. Feet together
  2. Bend your knees
  3. Prepare to roll

In ‘physical’ training we climbed onto a scaffolding block and jumped off onto a sweaty gym mattress 2m below. Feet together, knees bent, roll. We did a lot of preparation, at least 47 minutes. Three of those minutes were spent rolling up my sleeves and ankles on the ‘jump suit’ (I’m only 4ft 10!)

Just as we were getting into the tiny aeroplane, the instructor said: “Oh, by the way there’s a really weird phenomenon called ground rush. In that last ten seconds it will feel as if the ground is coming at you really fast. It’s just an optical illusion, don’t panic!”

I’d come this far, I wasn’t going to stop now. I could handle a bit of ground rush.

So, with my minutes of training, I jumped out of the aeroplane.

And it was ace.

In the quiet moments after the chute opened (yay!) I could look at the cows, the church spire, and tiny cars. Cute!

In the silence and all alone it seemed like a really good idea. I was enjoying myself.

A controlled descent. The cows, church, and cars… all coming closer…


…the ground started getting closer, fast, really fast – everything was getting bigger – what was I supposed to do? And, where was the X*?

  1. Feet together
  2. Bend your knees
  3. Prepare to roll

The preparation, and mantra, worked. I landed elegantly (in my mind!), rolled and gathered up my chute.

If you’ve ever ‘launched’ something successfully (including yourself out of an aeroplane) then you’ll have gone through these three final preparation steps.

Whether you’re:

  • Preparing for a Ted talk or an important podcast or speech
  • Setting up for a launch of a business, product or asset
  • Writing a book, a whitepaper or website

You need to get your 3 ground rush steps in order – and be prepared for launch.
Any long term project with an event at the end has the same series of preparation steps, and the same ground rush as you get closer to the deadline.

1. Feet together: get everything organised, lined up, constrained.

If you’re launching a product (like a book) you need to make sure you have all the assets lined up. You don’t want to be landing like a spreadeagled Bambi. Make a gantt chart or to do list of all the items that need to be ready and lined up well before launch. Don’t leave them till the last minute.

Focus on the things that have a showstopper element (no product, no launch) or a race condition (one might cause resource problems for the other).

2. Bend your knees: it’s happening, be mentally prepared, resilient and flexible.

A straight-legged landing will result in pain, broken bones and mockery from your instructor. You need to flex – mentally. You need to be physically resilient (launches take a surprising amount of energy). You need to land wherever you are (you can’t go back up!)

I know you’ve put all your attention, love, energy, time and resources into whatever it is you’re launching. The launch isn’t the end, it’s a step on the way (to more launches). And you are not the sum of the launch.

3. Prepare to roll: whatever happens you’ve landed, roll with it, get up and move on.

You can plan for the outcome, head for the X*, make small adjustments to direction as you’re going, but you can’t guarantee the outcome. You only have control over yourself and your actions (and if you saw my landing you’d have doubted that!)

If you miss the X you have still launched. You have the learning to make the next launch better (I did this twice!)

Whatever happens you jumped, and you’ll land.

Now gather your chute and get ready to jump again

Ciao for now,

* Read the other article if you want to know what happened to the X


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