Recognise your Dream
Realise your ambitions.
“Cadets, listen up and pay attention to your Commanding Officer. Next month we have a few opportunities for cadets to participate in the Glider Flying program. All cadets interested in applying, one pace forward; March.”
I was there when I was 14.
Have you ever had a dream of doing something really exciting? Maybe it was an exotic holiday, or perhaps it was learning an instrument, or maybe a great new business idea.
I was a cadet in an organisation called the “Air Training Corps” – that’s the RAF for young people. I can’t remember why I joined initially, but I rather suspect it was my dad’s idea since I was somewhat rebellious as a teenager.
Anyway, from time to time we had the opportunity to go on trips to do fun things. I remember one day when the CO asked us “Would any of you cadets like to have the opportunity to join the Glider Flying Program.” Well, I volunteered like a shot! I had always loved the idea of flying and I loved learning everything about it.
As I recall I was scared witless before we took off and we were airborne for less than 10 minutes, but I absolutely loved it. During that time I can remember the absolute elation of flying, of experiencing the miracle of flight personally, of just hanging there in mid-air, of the magnificent views, and you could see for miles. That feeling never left me.
Maybe you’ve had a dream like that?
A few years later I remember that feeling was rekindled. It was while I was at University and I bumped into a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen for a week or two, and he said to me: “Hey Rog, I’ve just got to tell you about the most awesome experience I’ve ever had! I’ve just come back from my first parachute jump and you wouldn’t believe what it feels like to be up there, suspended in mid-air like that. It’s a bit scary when you start out, but the feeling when you jump out of the plane, and the fantastic views you get on the way down, steering the parachute wherever you want to go; the feeling of flying was just incredible!”
I thought it sounded really exciting and I was keen to find out more. Well it turned out that it was quite expensive to sign up, and I had recently applied to the RAF for a job and I’d been offered a commission as an Engineer Officer, so I decided at the time that I didn’t want to pay to do a jump as a student when I would get a chance to jump for free as part of my job, and so at the time I postponed the idea. In the end, when I left university I decided not to join the RAF, and the whole idea of doing a parachute jump ended up getting left for another day.
So, fast forward with me to a time when I was chatting with my friend John in our local pub one day. John runs the local branch of a national charity and he is always on the lookout for some fun fundraising activities. So when John said to me: “I’ve been thinking about this year’s fundraising, and what about if we get a few of us together to do a parachute jump. We should be able to raise some funds doing that and have some fun doing it too.”
I immediately recalled the elation I had experienced when flying the glider, and the time I nearly signed up to do a jump at University, so when John came up with this idea I was full of bravado and said: “That’s a great idea, I’m up for that; I’ve always wanted to do a parachute jump!”
Well, it turns out that they do static line jumps at Langar Airfield in Nottingham which isn’t far from where we live, and five of us signed up to do a jump to raise some money for the charity. I remember the journey to the Airfield, and if you’d been sitting in John’s blue Landrover Discovery with us you would have heard loads of witty banter and bravado and we all sounded pretty confident. “There’s the Airfield, and … I can see the entrance, there it is, take the next left”. As we turned the corner the car fell very quiet, as we spotted the plane that we were going to jump out of that weekend.
We then spent an entire day learning about all the things that could possibly go wrong with jumping out of a plane. The instructor explained: “When you jump out, sometimes some part of the parachute mechanism can get caught on the wing or some other part of the plane, then I’ll have to climb down to you and then cut us both free! If your lines get twisted, which sometimes happens, then you’ll need to learn how to kick out with your legs so that you can untwist the lines.”
I remember glancing across at John and saw that he looked just as worried as I felt! We spent a good while learning what to do if the main parachute didn’t deploy and how to release the emergency chute, and we practiced how to land at speed without breaking anything.
Having spent all day learning about everything that could go wrong with jumping out of a plane we went home, to return the next day to give it a go, weather permitting. I remember looking up and it was a fairly chilly and overcast day but apparently, the cloud cover was high enough for us to do our jump.
During the morning we sat together on a bench near the landing area and had the opportunity to watch some of the regular members do all sorts of aerobatics on the way down. We patiently waited until our turn finally came along, and off we went to collect our parachutes and strap them on.
We made our way out to the plane and having figured out who sat where, I made sure to line up so that I would be the first one out of the plane, and we took off with the instructor straddling the empty doorway so we couldn’t fall out as we took off.
After we had reached the correct height and we approached the drop zone the instructor gestured across to me to indicate that I should edge towards the doorway, and I sat as I had been instructed, one cheek on the plane and one in mid-air, gripping the doorway, and then I saw the instructor shout: “JUMP” and I leapt out of the plane spreading out my arms and legs, arched my back and looked upwards to see the parachute unfurling.
I soon realised that my lines were actually twisted, so I had to do the “kick out” thing as I had been taught, to untwist the lines, and the parachute deployed and there I was, suspended in mid-air, flying solo with an absolutely magnificent view for miles around just like my friend had described. All I could hear was the wind in my ears and it felt like I was stationary, and I spent the next few minutes having fun steering the chute around in circles first this way then that way and really experienced that elation again, before having to aim for the landing spot. Finally, I landed, and the exhilaration I felt having actually done a jump on my own was unbelievable!
Now maybe you’re not that bothered about jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane that’s going to land soon anyway. So here’s a question for you: what’s that thing that you’ve always wanted to do? Maybe it’s something like learning a new language so you can order a drink when you’re on holiday? Maybe it’s learning a new sport so that you can enjoy getting fitter and shed some excess weight? Maybe you’ve got a really great product idea and you just haven’t got round to doing anything about it or a book you need to write.
I remember having this great idea when websites were a new thing and every company was getting one, and that was to have a site where everyone would go to browse through all of the houses for sale in an area without having to visit each company’s site in turn. I did nothing about that idea (can you tell?).
“So what could this look like”? The first step is to Recognise your Dream. More than likely it’ll be linked to your Sweet Spot. Everyone has one – just as a cricket bat has one, and a golf club does too, and a tennis racket … when you find the sweet spot it just feels so good! Your Sweet Spot is the place where your strengths, experiences and values overlap to bring excitement and reward.
For me, growing up, my dream was to fly. Later on, it involved learning to speak French sufficiently well that I could move up the corporate ladder in a French company. More recently it had to do with launching my own company. For Sue my wife it often has something to do with getting the extended family together, and we’re all going on a weekend away shortly.
What is it for you, what’s your dream; where’s your sweet spot?
The next step is to Respond to your Challenges. We know that the Inspiration zone is found outside your Comfort Zone, and that’s located just beyond the Terror Barrier, and it’s before you get to the Barmy Barrier where the Delusion Zone starts.
For me, to pursue my dream of flying, that flight in the glider and the Parachute Jump were definitely right there, beyond the Terror Barrier. Learning a foreign language was certainly there, as I had failed my French O’Level quite spectacularly, twice.
So if your dream is to be a public speaker, maybe the challenge of signing up to deliver your first talk is just beyond the terror barrier. Perhaps your dream is to write a book and your challenge is to write the first chapter or the outline, or if you want to get fitter, maybe your Inspiration Zone challenge is doing a 10k run.
Finally, you need to Realise your Ambitions. For this, you need to do something NEW. That’s your Next Exciting Win. Your Next Exciting Win is something that you can commit to that takes you towards that Dream and fits in the Inspiration Zone.
The Eagle and the Hawk
I am the eagle, I live in high country,
In rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky,
I am the hawk and there’s blood on my feathers,
But time is still turning, they soon will be dry,
And all those who see me, and all who believe in me,
Share in the freedom I feel when I fly!
~ John Denver
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.