Leadership, Parachutes and Appreciation

Written by Jay McDonald on .

As a leader, your people look to you for strength in times of need. They rely on your expertise, your wisdom, and your ability to guide them as they learn and grow both personally and professionally. But did you ever stop to think that the benefit you provide them could be as valuable as what you are getting in return? “I Packed Your Parachute” Captain Charles Plumb was a US Naval Academy graduate and a jet pilot in Vietnam. After seventy-five combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy lands where he was captured and spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience. Years later, Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant having dinner, when a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!” “How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb. “I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.” Plumb was obviously grateful to the man for doing such a good job packing his chute, yet because he was a fighter pilot and the man was just a sailor, he couldn’t help but wonder how many times he might have seen him years ago and not said good morning, or asked him how he was. Who Packs Your Parachute? As CEO’s and executive decisions makers, we rely on a variety of “parachutes” to get the job done. Mental, emotional, even spiritual parachutes help guide decision-making, giving us the confidence we need to excel. The people who fill these roles are an integral part of our journey and it makes sense to not only recognize their value, but acknowledge that we appreciate them for a job well done. Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. It could be as simple as failing to say hello, please or thank you, or congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them. In business as well as in our personal lives, taking time to think about those colleagues, friends, and loved ones who add value to our lives is a smart way to stay grounded, focused and in control. And while we may never have to rely on a well-packed parachute for survival, even the most experienced among us can benefit from a helping hand along the way.

Jay McDonald

With a unique breadth of knowledge earned through decades of hands- on experience, Jay is recognized as a strategic visionary whose high energy, quick wit and straight talk combined with a passion for mentoring others allows him to help executives achieve greater results and enjoy more rewarding personal lives. Connect with Jay McDonald on Google+

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