Pack your own Parachute

Unique Leadership Axiom: Never trust your life to someone who does not know or care about you.

We live in a complex world.  Gone are the days of the rugged individualists.  Almost everything we do depends on the team or some support element.  That support depends on knowledge, action, and integrity.  If your support comes from a Bart Simpson outlook: “so what, who cares, what is in it for me”, then you are in a lot of trouble!

How will you survive? No, you cannot pack your own parachute the way the early skydivers did.  But you can create quality support before you start a mission.

When I was a graduate student at Caltech, Frank Borman was a fellow student.  Frank is best remembered as the Commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to fly around the moon.  We were both Air Force officers and had a professional connection.

Later, before the Apollo 8 mission, I saw him at NASA.  He had two stacks of photographs on his desk.  One stack had signed messages on them.  Each photo was different.  Each photo showed Frank with people who worked on the production line of the Saturn V rocket.

I asked Frank what he was doing.  He told me that he took every opportunity to go to the Saturn V production lines.  There he would thank the workers for doing a good job.  He took a photographer with him.  As he walked through the production facility getting pictures taken he talked with everybody working on that Saturn V booster, he made notes of the conversations.

When the photo prints came back to him he used his notes to guide what he wrote to each of the workers. Each individual worker got a personalized signed photo.  This was a long time habit for Frank.

Frank Was Packing His Own Parachute!

You encounter many people every day.  Show respect as you deal with them.  Thank the young man who delivers your mail.  Are the servers in the company cafeteria glad that you were there?  What about the security guards?  What about the janitor?  Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you are also packing your parachute. Pack it respectfully and then the parachute will work when you need it.

Leadership Focus: Winning is an intimate mixture of many events which cascade to success.

My Take: To be a winner, be a leader.  To be a leader, put the troops first!

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