Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride!

Many moons ago when I was in Army parachute training (my mother’s comment upon hearing that I was going to be a paratrooper was, Tom why do you do this to us?) there was your classic blow hard in the same 3-week course. We know them as bullies, loud mouths, know-it-alls. They rankle us, piss us off, and make us wonder what God intended when he mixed the DNA of these clowns.

Week three of jump school is the week you make real jumps. There wasn’t one of us who didn’t have a tight sphincter the weekend before, except of course Bobby Blow Hard. “You guys are all chickens, this is gonna be a piece of cake. Just follow what I do.” We were in C-119s. For you non-aerial buffs this was known as the Flying Boxcar. They stopped making them in 1955 but they are still being used by the Taiwanese Air Force. The ones we jumped from had wooden floor boards.

So here we are with our equipment on and static lines hooked. Bobby the B.H. is first in line. When you’re standing in the door the Jump Master says “Hands on the door”, which means you place your hands palm in on the outside of the plane in preparation to jump. B.B.H. got the message but didn’t move! And he wasn’t going to. The man (really a boy) barfed on his shoes. That was followed by the Jump Master taking his size 15 right boot and jamming it into the back of Bobby, thereby propelling him out the door. You could hear the screams all over Fort Benning. That was Bobby’s only jump.

We all buy tickets to multiple events in our lives-marriage, jobs, military duty, riding our first bike, trying out for teams, and the list does go on almost endlessly. Call them challenges, risks, uncertainties. The tickets we buy also represent our willingness to step outside our comfort zones, do things differently, potentially make fools of ourselves, put us in the spot light, and open the possibility of failure in our endeavors. The beauty of the ticket is the uncertainty of the ride. We never know the outcome until we put every ounce of our effort into the “ride”.

I maintain that we, as a people, are losing our desire to not only buy the ticket but take the ride. Nike had it figured out when their slogan became Just Do It. What really can happen if you fail? You learn something. If you succeed? You’ve achieved! There is no better satisfaction.

Good leaders inspire people to buy tickets and stay for the ride!


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