Leadership, Parachutes and Appreciation

As a leader, your people look to you for strength in times of need. They rely on your expertise, 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 was 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 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 CEOs and executive decision-makers, we rely on a variety of "parachutes" to get the job done. Mental, emotional, and 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 important. It could be as simple as failing to say hello, please, 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.